By on August 24, 2010

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?

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144 Comments on “Video Hints At Volt Performance: Just Over 40 Miles Of EV Range, Under 30 MPG Thereafter...”


  • avatar
    srogers

    I guess that it’s no surprise that in fuel burning mode the Volt isn’t so efficient. It’s a fact that you’re going to lose energy in the mechanical to electric conversion.

    • 0 avatar
      cmcmail

      And back to mechanical!

    • 0 avatar
      RogerB34

      Doesn’t beat Prius.
      And Toyota wasn’t taxpayer funded.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      “And Toyota wasn’t taxpayer funded.”

      Assuming you are talking about US taxpayers, that depends upon how far back in history you care to go. In the early 1950s Toyota, and all of Japan’s industry, where very much on the ropes due to the effects of WWII. The US made massive purchases from Japan for the Korean war effort, including some FJ type vehicles from Toyota, which some historians credit with keeping Toyota alive at that time.

  • avatar

    Over at GM-Volt.com, I remember seeing this: “It was clear from the dash display, however, that a full tank would produce about 340 miles of range.”

    That combined with a 9 Gal tank equals about 37.8MPG.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Uh, no. You are not taking into account the 40 miles elctric only range. With that range is only 300 miles, for about a 33mpg figure. Oops, there are a lot of cars out there offering better economy than that, including a lot of cheaper GM products. Explain to me who will buy this thing in any quantities so that it’s not a huge money loser for Government Motors.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, has TTAC snapped back to the “no one is ever going to buy a Volt” pole again? Just last week we were at “so many people are going to want the Volt that the dealer is going to have a huge markup!” pole.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This really is an tempest in a teapot.

    For EV use, what we care about is urban/mixed/extra-urban range**; for ICE use, what we care about it fuel usage under the same. BEVs have to report the former; EREV (god, do I hate that term) both, PHEVs and ICE only the latter.

    The disclosure would be fine, as Volt intenders are probably going to stick to the EV range most often anyway. Trying to obfuscate the issue and/or shoehorn the car’s performance into an existing ratings system is foolish.

    ** I suppose one day we might care about kWh and/or Ah, but really, what matters is how far these things are going to go.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      I agree with you in part.

      The market will break down as follows for EV intenders:
      1. Short-range use: Volt makes no sense. Buy a Leaf for $9k less.
      2. Long-range use: Volt makes no sense. Buy a Cruze or Regal. No EV makes sense.
      3. Mixed-range use: Debatable. Could be a wash to own a Leaf and a cheap second ICE car.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      While I prefer the Leaf, I can easily see 10K people getting a Volt because they don’t want to worry about range.

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      ~ 10,000 getting a volt ~

      Agreed. Look at the smart: about 30,000 people got one in the 1st two years. And then sales collapsed and only about 600 are being sold per month, implying that the ones who wanted one, got one.

      And the smart is a $14K vehicle.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Hopefully, no one with an engineering degree will be stupid enough to purchase one of these POS things. Let’s leave it to the Hollywood types.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    They also calculate it got 100 mpg over the whole 59.7 mile test. This debate will never end, because of the 40-mile electric range.

    If it’s really getting 27 mpg on the open road, there are numerous cars that do better, including the 300-HP Ford Mustang, which goes 0-60 a lot quicker than 8.53 seconds.

    Although I’m no Volt fan, I can’t believe the real-world highway mileage is that bad. If it is, GM may as well forget it. The range-extension is WHY you buy the Volt. Otherwise, you should get a Leaf if you want an EV.

    • 0 avatar
      srogers

      But IF you need extended range, you’re screwed with a Leaf.

      Maybe the Volt doesn’t get stellar mpg on the highway, but I’m assuming that people who buy this are doing it primarily for the 40 mile EV mode, and only need extended range on rare occasions.

      For myself, being part of a 2 car family, I would buy the Leaf and swap vehicles whenever longer trips are necessary.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      Just wait for the next gen……GM is always going to get it right the next time.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      I would love to buy a Leaf and then put a crappy ICE in it. Even if it was only a 1 gallon tank and 15mpg, any range anxiety is completely gone, plus I have a source of heat in the winter.

      You really aren’t supposed to drive the Volt across the country. Its marketing point over the Leaf is that you could, and you still can.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    This — and psarhjinian’s comment — simply illustrate what a limited-utility vehicle the Volt is. It appears that the Volt only makes sense as a commuter car for a user whose commute (or daily driving mileage for whatever purpose) doesn’t exceed the Volt’s EV-only range by more than 10 miles or so and can then recharge the battery from the grid.

    Using the Volt as a general-purpose vehicle (for road trips and such) doesn’t make any sense. You’d be better off with a Cruze (not even counting the significant price difference between the Volt and the Cruze), or a Prius.

    The big question, then, is whether the Volt is better or worse than the other obviously limited-utility vehicle, the Nissan Leaf. The Leaf, while lacking the ICE backup power supply, has a greater EV-only range.

    I don’t think anyone should be surprised that, as a gasoline-powered vehicle, the Volt is not particularly efficient, since there are substantial conversion losses associated with using the ICE to generate electricity to drive the traction motor.

    Interestingly, the first “hybrid vehicles” — diesel-electric submarines — illustrated this design difference. The German U-boats allowed their ICEs to be connected directly to the propellers; while the American subs, using motor-generator combinations modeled after railroad locomotive powerplants, did not have this capability.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It appears that the Volt only makes sense as a commuter car for a user whose commute (or daily driving mileage for whatever purpose) doesn’t exceed the Volt’s EV-only range by more than 10 miles or so and can then recharge the battery from the grid

      And that is a lot of people.

      And unlike the Leaf, you won’t get stranded if you exceed the range on occasion. I don’t see the problem, other than this is an relatively expensive car with a fairly small roll-out.

      I agree that there’s more efficiency to be gained from, eg, moving to a more Prius-like system whereby the car could go ICE/ICE+EV/EV. I’m not sure why GM didn’t do this. No, scratch that, they probably had good reasons (intellectual property, cost, complexity) but it would be nice nonetheless.

    • 0 avatar
      moedaman

      “I agree that there’s more efficiency to be gained from, eg, moving to a more Prius-like system whereby the car could go ICE/ICE+EV/EV. I’m not sure why GM didn’t do this. No, scratch that, they probably had good reasons (intellectual property, cost, complexity) but it would be nice nonetheless.”

      How about “With the amount of money we sunk into this, we have to be different.”?

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    I can go weeks and weeks driving less than 40 miles per day, and thus not need gas. On those rare occasions in which I would drive farther, 27 MPG is probably fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Lokki

      Good for you Matthew – but do you really want to have $40 (OK, $33K plus tax) tied up in a vehicle that you use so little?

      You could have a very nice Honda Fit with as much interior room, performance and comfort, getting “28 city / 35 highway / 31 combined for Fit with automatic transmission” – fully loaded up for about $19K.

      Even if your combined mileage is 38mpg (as per Adrian above) the difference in fuel costs at $3 per gallon over 10,000 miles is $520 – per year, or $10 per week.

      If you keep the car 5 years, you will have saved $2600 in gasoline costs, but will have paid $11,400 in ‘status tax’ or, if you prefer, ‘green tax’.

      But you will have impressed your friends.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      If you routinely drive 40 miles or less, then you are paying for the ICE and hauling it around. Both of those cost money and aren’t doing anything for you. With a Prius on the highway – after the batteries are charged – they can’t do anything for you – they are “dead weight” to haul around using gas.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      “If you keep the car 5 years, you will have saved $2600 in gasoline costs, but will have paid $11,400 in ’status tax’ or, if you prefer, ‘green tax’.
      But you will have impressed your friends.”

      This. As any salesperson worth their salt will tell you, “people make decisions emotionally and defend them rationally”. I’m sure GM will sell all the volts they can build just because it’s an American brand and has a media-created image of being “hi tek” and “green”. Think of all the people who would love a Prius but wouldn’t be caught dead buying Japanese. Combined with all the early adopters who simply must have the latest gadget and that’s quite a few sales right there…

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      It’s also possible that people actually place a non-zero value on each of 1) reducing petroleum usage, and 2) reducing pollution emissions.

      I know, such people are amazingly hard to find among your friends. But they do exist.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      With a Prius on the highway – after the batteries are charged – they can’t do anything for you – they are “dead weight” to haul around using gas

      Actually, the battery and electric motor does come into play on the Prius when you’re on the highway. The electic motor pitches in going up hills – at least according to the display.

      I recently drove from Burlington Vt. to Boston in a fully loaded Prius (4 adults + a fully loaded cargo area) on I-89 with the cruise set a 68 mph and occasionally jumping to 70 to pass. I managed 50.1 mpg. I did have a new set of Kumho eco Solus low rolling resistance tires, but I’m not sure how much they may have helped.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      With a Prius on the highway – after the batteries are charged – they can’t do anything for you

      Not true, as the Camry Hybrid illustrates. It gets much better mileage than the I4 Camry despite weighing more.

    • 0 avatar
      vww12

      ~ people actually place a non-zero value on reducing pollution emissions ~

      It is highly debatable whether causing an entire new ton-plus worth of mining, smelting, molding, and hydroforming of steel, plastic and glass helps reduce any pollution.

      Arguably, a true hippy would buy a 5-yr old Civic, if genuinely attempting to Save Gaia.

      Anyone who orders one brand new ton of highly processed materials while imagining they are “saving the planet” is only deluding himself.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      @nonce: A better way to reduce petroleum usage and reduce pollution emissions would be to buy a used car or just keep the car you have. Manufacturing and distributing new cars squanders huge amounts of energy.
      I know people want the green image and you don’t get that by driving your old beater, but the old beater is actually more green than a new hybrid.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      I can also sell my old car to someone who will use it, and buy a new car myself.

      Cars have a finite life. If I drive my car into the ocean after 3 years and then buy a new one, that’s much different than driving a car for 3 years, and then selling it to someone else who will use it before buying a new one.

      Just don’t give it to the dealer.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      nonce said, “I can also sell my old car to someone who will use it, and buy a new car myself.”.

      You’re still squandering tons of energy when you buy new. The old car just keeps getting greener as its cost to the environment amortizes, while the new one is a giant resource hog and will take years to be as “clean” in that regard.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      The vast majority of the energy use involved in owning a car is the on-going fuel charges, not the up-front manufacturing charge.

      If new and old cars were all alike and all lasted forever, then, yes, keeping old cars running would be the most efficient. But old cars eventually wear out, hopefully turning into parts to keep other old cars running.

      This is where economists start talking about the marginal effect of one additional new car. The person who bought my used car would presumably have bought a different car had my old car not been available. That car would have been either new or used — and it if was used, we just start the cycle over again. As long as I make sure that my old car enters the used car market, I’m just affecting the total distribution of car age among the market.

      There are some second-order effects to consider, like the fact that I should try to get the least efficient cars in the hands of the people who drive the least, and if I am a minimal driver than taking an SUV off of someone’s hands so that they can buy a more efficient model is also reducing total energy usage.

  • avatar
    celebrity208

    So lets think about this. If we break the CS mode into the two types of MPG figures printed on a car’s sticker we are then interested in City and Highway Charge Sustaining Miles per Gallon.

    Thinking about CS-Hwy-MPG only… I find it hard to believe that the Volt will be around 27mpg. The car is supposed to be silly slippery and you know it’s going to wear very hard, low rolling resistance tires. In steady state on a highway it’s ALL about a car’s cd and less about the weight. If the Cruze can get into the high 30′s I suspect the Volt will do the same.

    Regarding CS-City-MPG I suspect it would be similar to a regular hybrid, regen braking and all. On par with maybe the 1st or 2nd gen hybrid camry.

    These are my assumptions and guesses only. I do not work for GM nor in the auto industry. To my BS in Mech. Eng and MS in thermodynamics mind my comments seem to be logical. HOWEVER, I reserve the right to have made a mistake in my logic.

    (Now that I type all this uninformed mumbo jumbo above, I wonder what happens to the electricity produced by the ICE when the Volt comes to a stop in city traffic or coasts downhill in WV while in Charge Sustaining mode? Do we know if the engine cycles up and down in power to meet the demands of the driver’s right foot in CS mode?)

    • 0 avatar
      Lokki

      Celebrity -

      I think you’re forgetting to factor in the losses from converting the ICE power to electrical power when you compare the mileage between the Cruze and the Volt. Even if the loss is only 10%, that’s 3 mpg or so….

      But I’m no engineer either, so :-)

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      Also the extra weight of the batteries and electric drive. Surely that will be quite significant, so probably the Volt will get much worse mileage than the Cruze once the initial charge runs out. Also, people keep repeating “40 miles” as if God said it — might want to rethink that, given GM’s history of blatant lying!

    • 0 avatar
      celebrity208

      Lokki – I’m neglecting the added electrical drivetrain loss becuase it’s those losses are in place of a hydraulic or electrically actuated automatic with torque converter. The tuner/dyno community assume that rough automatic transmission and the rest of the drivetrain losses are 15% (+/-5%). I say it’s a wash. Electric transmission vs mechanical transmission… I don’t know enough to say whether one’s more efficient than the other. History would say that the mechanical transmission is more efficient however we’ve also seen that electrical efficiencies were nowhere where they are today back in the 20′s, 30′s, and 40′s when the die was cast for the modern vehicle architecture.

      thebeelzebubtrigger – by the same token wouldn’t a Prius get worse mileage because of the weight of it’s batteries? Weight hurts rolling resistance and losses due to accelerations (+ and – accel). But since a hybrid captures the energy used to accelerate a heavy car when that heavy car needs to slow down the loss comes from the conversion. Thus, an empty pruis will get incrementally (just try to measure it) better mileage than one loaded with a ton of weight.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      @celebrity208:
      Sure, a Prius would get better mileage if we had better battery tech that weighed less. Most likely the same car without the electric drive and battery would get at least similar mileage without the added expense and complexity. Honestly, I think hybrids are kind of a scam. If the manufacturers were serious about not “helping” the oil companies they might build things more like this:

      http://www.motherearthnews.com/Green-Transportation/1978-03-01/This-Car-Travels-75-Miles-on-a-Single-Gallon-of-Gasoline.aspx

      Instead they focus on heavy and inefficient batteries. It’s just a way to claim to be green while really giving a very slight (if any — see Civic hybrid) improvement. It’s interesting to note that all the cars on the market which allow the option of straight ICE or hybrid drives do not show any impressive mileage boost in real world use with the hybrid option. I suspect this is why Toyota doesn’t sell a non-hybrid version of the Prius — it would make the hybrid look far less impressive. :)

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      “…It’s interesting to note that all the cars on the market which allow the option of straight ICE or hybrid drives do not show any impressive mileage boost in real world use with the hybrid option. I suspect this is why Toyota doesn’t sell a non-hybrid version of the Prius — it would make the hybrid look far less impressive. :)…”

      No, that is not true at all. According to real world mileage from TrueDelta, a standard ICE 4 cylinder Nissan Altima returns about 26 MPG. The real world value for the Hybrid version is about 35 MPG. That’s significant in my book…you can argue about cost-benefit all you want but that is a significant boost.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      @golden2husky:
      You’re right about the Altima hybrid, but isn’t it the exception to the rule? Certainly the Honda, GM truck, and Ford hybrids are pretty unimpressive. ISTR reading the Fusion hybrid was only good for about 27 mpg in the winters up north, that’s pretty atrocious for a car that size.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      golden2husky, OK, not so fast. The standard ICE 4 cylinder Nissan Altima in TrueDelta’s MPG test was run mostly in city traffic while the Hybrid version was run mostly highway, hence the significant fuel savings.
      It is truely impossible to do a side by side MPG comparison between these two at TrueDelta’s site. Too many variables and points, 1 thru 10, assigned to survey terms such as terrain, throttle application, a/c use, light to heavy city traffic or highway speeds in 5 MPH increments.
      It’s all over the place. The best I could estimate is 3 MPG increase with the hybrid over the ICE using TrueDelta.
      If you were to use autos.yahoo to compare MPG, you’d get ratings that are less ‘real world’, perhaps, but they are standardized and you can us them to compare between models and brands.
      If you did use autos.yahoo, you’d find that the Hybrid Altima only gains 4 MPG combined city/highway over the standard ICE 4 cylinder.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Having driven extensively at Milford, I can tell you that depending on the course, that could be a very good mileage number. It’s pretty hilly and curvy – unless they just went around the ovel at 50MPH.

    Insufficient info here to make that determination.

    • 0 avatar
      racebeer

      I tend to agree with you.

      In fact, three weeks ago when me and the better half were on vacation driving through the west, we happend upon two Volts being tested (along with a GMC chase truck). We were around Kayenta, Co (between Durango and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on US-160) when we both needed a human pit stop. We pulled into this quick mart place and noticed a crowd around a couple of cars in the lot. Well, when I got out, it was apparent that the crowd was around two Volts undergoing on road testing. I walked up and spoke to one of the drivers and he said they were one of at least 8 teams in various parts of the country testing in real world conditions. I asked him about the mileage he was getting in the curvy up and downhill roads of the region, and he said “I could tell Ya, but then I’d have to kill Ya”. So, it appears GM is trying to figure out range numbers in lots of differing environments.

    • 0 avatar
      Anchorman33

      I think Contrarian has a great point with this. However, any expectations that this will get as good or better mileage than a Cruze are probably unfounded. While they may share similar frames, and the Volt has less aerodynamic drag, it is also dragging how many hundreds of pounds of extra battery weight? That has got to impose some mileage penalty.

  • avatar
    daviel

    Once again, the rock is lifted up and under there is another POS EV that is all hype and no juice.

  • avatar
    ninja14blue

    The Volt is an absolute joke. Seriously, even if you used NO gas for the entire 3 years you leased one of these for $350-$400 a month, it would still cost you less to lease a 30-35 mpg car (like say, a Honda Civic) for $150/month with a similar down payment and still come out ahead after 3 years and 36K miles.

    At the current $2.60/gal and let’s say 30 mpg combined for the Civic, you would use 400 gallons of gas a year and it would cost you $1040…or about $90/month if you drove the full 12K miles each of the 3 years. So basically, you are paying $120 or more a month just so you won’t burn any gas (and I seriously doubt anyone will lease a Volt for 3 years and not use any gas). This doesn’t even take in the cost of electricity you’ll use to plug this thing in every night.

    The Volt only makes sense if gasoline gets around or over $5/gallon or the price of the car drops significantly enough to cover the difference between a $15K-$20K car that can get over 30 mpg.

    Sorry GM, if I’m going to spend $41K plus on one your vehicles, it’s not going to be the Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      You’re exactly right. The only way to properly evaluate an EV is to start with the assumption that it uses NO gasoline at all, and then calculate ROI based upon its price premium over a conventional car you might otherwise buy.

      MPG calculations for EVs are just an endless tangle.

      But no matter how you cut it, the Volt doesn’t make economic sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike999

      Sheesh,
      I guess I just don’t understand you guys.
      1) The Volt is an 80-20 car.
      80% of the time it’s an EV, 20% it’s a car that gets decent gas mileage.

      2) It’s a Technical US Innovation. That’s What America is About.

      3) As an EV it kicks the Arabs in the rear, along with Wall Street Oil Speculators, making you Immune to their market manipulation. You have your own Effective Foreign Policy, No Arab Oil.

      4) It pollutes less, since 80% of the time it’s an EV.
      It’s your personal message to the Crackpot Koch Brothers, Stop Propagandizing Global Warming to Protect your Coal Position. This is Capitalism: Either Innovate or Get out of the Way.

      That’s worth the price.
      But, the price must drop so that more people can send the message.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      You would also find the same problems with pricing a Prius or Leaf. The Prius sells well and the Leaf, well we will see how the Leaf does. But this wouldn’t be the first time cars a purchased and don’t make economic sense.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Mike999: Those things aren’t worth the price to me. Besides, the US imports only about 10% of its fuel from Persian Gulf nations. I love capitalism and innovation, but many innovative ideas have died because they couldn’t be produced profitably.

      @Steven02: I agree that not every car purchase has to make economic sense (e.g.: sports cars). But an ‘economy’ car should, and that’s the Volt’s claim to fame. At $41k, it’s a failure in that regard.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      Mike999: “The Volt is an 80-20 car.80% of the time it’s an EV, 20% it’s a car that gets decent gas mileage.”

      Maybe for you. I live in a rural area and have to drive more than 40 miles per day often. So for me the Volt would be a 20-80 car, which defeats the whole point of the thing if it can barely deliver 30 mpg. My comfy old LeSabre already gets 25-28 mpg, my F150 does 20-22 mpg. Factor in a purchase price exceeding $40k and that’s a really bad deal. If I had any plan to spend money on a new car to be more “green” the Volt certainly wouldn’t make my list. I’d just be throwing money away. And that’s not even taking into account the fact that several forums are abuzz with many GM owners reporting that the GM warranties are just fake anyway!
      No-one capable of thinking critically will buy a Volt. Fortunately for GM probably fewer than 10% of people have any sense at all…

      As for it being an “American innovation”, no — there’s nothing particularly innovative about the Volt. The 1899 Porsche-Lohner was the first series hybrid car, 111 (that’s one hundred eleven!) years ago.

      http://www.hybrid-vehicle.org/hybrid-vehicle-porsche.html

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      I live in a rural area and have to drive more than 40 miles per day often. So for me the Volt would be a 20-80 car,

      So don’t get one. Sheesh.

      If I went onto every single thread out pickup trucks and said “I only haul stuff 1% of the time, how useless!”, people would (correctly) regard me as a total hack.

      No-one capable of thinking critically will buy a Volt.

      No True Scotsman would buy a GM car!!

  • avatar
    benzaholic

    I really hope this thing is well into the 30s for combined MPG in charge sustaining.
    If it really is just in the 20s, GM is so screwed.
    I don’t expect 40s, even in straight higway cruising, and I don’t think that level is critical to its success.

    Like many vehicles, the Volt will be an appropriate choice for those with certain driving conditions and styles, and it will not be an appropriate choice for others. It’s also definitely about more than just the costs to get from Point A to Point B today.

    This thing has got to succeed enough to justify a reasonable GM investment in the second generation, or GM will be condemned to second tier engineering status in the industry and in the market for quite some time. They haven’t been able to keep up with the market in terms of engines or style. If they can make this program work, they will have jumped ahead of most others in drivetrain tech, but they’ll also have to continue investing and pushing, as opposed to what they did to poor Saturn.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Like many vehicles, the Volt will be an appropriate choice for those with certain driving conditions and styles, and it will not be an appropriate choice for others

      That’s impossible. Either you buy a Geo Metro or a Hummer H2. There is no middle ground. There is no diversity of opinion. There is no sloping demand curve. Everyone is the same. Conform, conform!

  • avatar
    holydonut

    I actually think one of the reasons you buy the Volt is so that you don’t get stranded in the middle of nowhere if you get overzealous in how many miles you think your all-electric Leaf can take you.

    That was one of the issues with GMs original EV1. You’d have a few (very vocal and usually the ones you can read narratives from) people saying how the car was great for their use, but you’d many more people with severe trepidation about what would happen if they ran out of power.

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    We probably won’t know “real world” numbers until December/January, so I think it is too early to “freak out” yet.

    Based on the fuel economy estimates from the Cruze and the fact that the Volt has better aero, more efficient HVAC, more weight, optimized engine RPM’s and less energy efficiency due to conversion losses. I predict the following:

    45 MPG City/35 MPG Hwy = 40 MPG Combined in CSM.

    Defintely not as good as Prius (50+ combined) but better as a primary car than the Leaf for most people. So there is a small market for this vehicle, but it needs a lot of work before it is a viable option for everyone else.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    look at this rationally, and the volt makes a lot of sense (and I’m speaking as an engineer). The I/C engine powers the electric wheel motors. Yes, you lose efficiency with this arrangement, but you gain a lot back by allowing the I/C engine to operate at optimun RPM all the time and not rev it up and down, which is wasteful. If this were not true, every major freight carrier in the nation wouldn’t be running the same set up in every diesel electric locomotive out there. The concept is sound. Also take into account that not a lot of people drive more than 40 miles round trip everyday, and when they get home, they can charge the car overnight. Maybe it doesn’t cover 100% of average driving habits, but I bet it covers about 90%.

    This hybrid arrangement is probably going to be the technology path of the future, even if it isn’t the most efficient right this minute, and at least until battery technology obsoletes it. Everyone forgets that prop driven airplanes were at one point in time far more efficient that jet engines.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      Not to rehash the operation of a Volt,
      But isn’t it an electric car? – running off the battery power.
      The battery power can come from an outlet recharge or the ICE recharging the battery?
      So the ICE doesn’t directly run the motors turning the wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      tced2, you are correct about the Volt being an electric car and the ICE recharges the battery which still powers the car. It is all clearly spelled out on the voltage.com web site.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Sundowner, If you were to buy a Volt and I, a fully loaded 2010 Corolla and we each drove 40 miles a day, you would pay $20,000 more to avoid paying the $850 a year that I’d be spending on fuel. That’s assuming you’d charge your Volt for pennies a night.
      It would take you seventeen years, six months to recoup your investment if fuel prices averaged $4 per gallon over the next seventeen years.
      A new battery for my Corolla might be as much as $200 a few years from now. How much will yours be?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Sundowner: Diesel-electric trains take advantage of economies of scale, and relatively level terrain, with slow acceleration and deceleration patterns. Those economies disappear if that same train is only pulling one car, and then asked to accelerate to 60 mph in 8 seconds, while providing a ‘normal’ driving experience.

      GM has done an admirable job scaling the technology into the Volt package, and I really like the basic concept. The variable they’ve failed on is the high price, which nullifies the meaning of ‘economy’ car.

      How many takers would Honda have for a $41k Civic that got 100 mpg, or varied from 230 down to 27?

  • avatar

    I feel like there’s a lot of irrational hatred for this car. I don’t get it. I consider myself a pretty normal, workaday computer programmer. People who live in my part of the country drive their cars to work, school, and the mall. 40 miles is plenty, and if its not, then no big deal. This car makes a lot of sense to people like me, and there are more than a few of us.

    They are pricey, but it’s also brand new technology. I think there will be a lot of people who will pay a premium buy a car that will allow them to commute with out using a drop of that evil oil stuff. I’m not one of those people, but I suspect there will be enough for GM to turn a profit and continue to invest in EV tech.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    It just occured to me, has anyone tried to calculate the cost of nightly charges? How much will this add to your electric bill compared to the cost of gas in a regular ice vehicle?

    • 0 avatar
      moedaman

      This is something I never see in regard to the Volt and the Leaf. Which has cheaper per mile costs? Fueling up an EV off of the grid or fueling up something like a Fit or Yaris (or even the eco-version of the Cruze) at a gas station? Also creating any type of energy creates waste products. Which is dirtier? Energy from an (non-nuke) electric power plant or a modern gasoline engine?

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Compared to amortizing the wear on the batteries, the cost of electricity is a rounding error. (You should still avoid using peak TOD billing in California to charge your car.)

      Per-mile costs of electric cars are cheaper than per-mile costs of gasoline cars. This has been true for decades and still is true. The reason people didn’t use electric vehicles was that they didn’t like the range.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Yes, many have. It’s not particularly high, either and always goes in the EV’s favour.

      I’ll use Leaf numbers because I don’t know what the Volt’s battery is like, but assume it’s similar:
      * The Leaf has a 24kWh battery
      * Average price per kWh is something like $0.10
      * Assuming you’re not completely killing the battery every time (say, 15kWh used per day, on average).
      * Fudge a little due to losses incurred charging due to heat and such.

      That gives you about 15kWh * $0.10/kWh, or a little less than two bucks a day or $60/month. I fill my Honda Fit three times a month or more and it mostly does commuter duty that the Leaf or Volt would be well-suited to. That’s not bad.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Thanks for the numbers Psar. They will do as a ballpark figure. But I can spend about that much a month daily driving a 3/4 ton diesel truck as a commuter. So even at that the savings a minimal for me anyway plus the truck is there for hunting trips and hauling stuff. So it wouldn’t make sense to have a Volt if I needed a truck too.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      And will there be electricity available? California can barely run all the air conditioners, lights, and computers – will adding a large population of cars be possible? Yes, the power need will be “off-peak” but all the electric cars will want it at the same time (overnight). Will neighborhood electric transformers be overloaded?

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      10,000 electric cars is all that is standing between a peaceful and one that sinks into the ocean.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      And will there be electricity available? California can barely run all the air conditioners

      At some point we’re going to have to move to a smart grid where devices like HVAC systems and, yes, electric cars communicate with a smart meter, and the smart meter communicates with the utility to determine how power is being allocated.

      I’ve seen estimates that place the cost of a smart grid at well under that of a hydro-electric or nuclear powerplant.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      The Volt battery is 16kWh, but is only supposed to use range between 80% and 30% charge to keep a good battery life. So, you are using 50% charge, or 8kWh. I just got a plan (in Texas) that is 8.1 cents a kWh. So, it is pretty cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      I really want to get:

      1. something like the Nissan Leaf, but
      2. where I lease the battery from someone like Better Place, and either
      3a. a small crummy ICE backup. Even as an after-market that would be okay. It doesn’t even need to be gasoline, if you can give me something better.
      3b. a battery swap station within a few miles of my commute.

      Hey, pistonheads: what would 3a cost, and how much space would it take up?

    • 0 avatar
      Revver

      Nonce, bringing up A Better Place is worthy in this overall EV conversation. Moving away from the ICE is gonna be tough when “Power Stations” are limited to your home.

  • avatar

    nor do we know exactly how the 16 miles was driven.

    That’s a big element of uncertainty.

    27 mpg in mixed city/suburban isn’t bad. I think the critical factor is highway mileage. My guess is that if a steady 60-70 mph on the highway yields 35 mpg or so, I think owners will be very pleased.

    Early on, the 50 mpg highway figure was predicated on a dedicated ICE, not a 1.4 liter Cruze engine detuned for the job.

    Here’s a Google satellite image of the GM proving grounds in Milford.
    http://www.autothreads.com/images/gmmilfordprovinggrounds.jpg

    Unless they were on the high speed skid pad at the north end of the complex, or the loop in the middle, they probably weren’t duplicating the kind of steady speed driving that yields high mileage numbers.

    Note, too, on the west side of the proving grounds, is a straight that’s about 3 miles long. I guess that’s also used for some high speed stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      Contrarian

      And you don’t get a concept of how hilly it is from the sat pic.

      One advantage of series hybrids is that they make the transition to fuel-cell power very easy. Assuming fuel cells come to fruition as an automotive power source.

    • 0 avatar
      holydonut

      You also do not know if the vehicle ended up with an increased net charge in the batteries after the 16 miles. Maybe the Volt goes to “run the engine mode” at a certain threshold of remaining energy level in the batteries, and does not switch off the ICE until the gasoline-motor has replenished the batteries back to a certain level. This would prevent a constant start/stop of the ICE.

      Of course I’m assuming the ICE is able to recharge the batteries faster than a normal driving pace would consume electricity from the batteries. This doesn’t change the fact that a volume of gasoline was consumed by the vehicle as it traveled 16 miles. But it’d be somewhat misleading to declare that the volume of gasoline consumed was 100% required to move the 16 miles.

      I agree with the above posts that using the MPG measuring stick for this technology is inane, and leads to pointless arguments. People tend to over-simply things. In this case, you have people who know “mpg” due to the fact that they are accustomed to pumping gasoline in a car – and that gasoline allows them to travel a certain distance. People are now applying their rather simplistic experience to something that is much more complicated.

      I don’t know what you think TTAC’s “place” is in the world, but sometimes you need to think if using your teeth is desirable instead of acting just because you happen to have the teeth. Regurgitating PR-spun generic news is undesirable, but intentionally trying to over simply a situation and draw inferences as news is also undesirable. The vast portion of the general public has no desire to sit down and really understand something in detail. They just want quick hits and people to tell them things… but I suppose money is made pandering to them regardless if you have teeth or not.

    • 0 avatar
      dhathewa

      Ronnie Schreiber,

      The whole point of an EV is to use no gas. The RE-EV concept is not a bad idea but if you are suddenly sucking down gas at the rate of 27mpg after your 40 miles are up, that sort of invalidates the whole point of the vehicle, doesn’t it? At $41K/copy, I think some sort of excellence in that mission is called for.

      That said, I looked at the video and I think it would be difficult to draw any conclusions from the meager information presented. GM has expressed confidence that the car can go 340 miles on a charge and a tank. There are reports that Consumer Reports was told the tank is 9 gallons in size. The lower limit for Volt mpg after battery exhaustion is probably 33-34mpg. I’m guessing they’ll hit closer to 40, which is still fairly disappointing at that price.

      By the way, the video display also seemed to indicate that they were able to wring a little more than 40 miles out of the Volt’s initial charge.

      And, holydonut, it looked to me like the battery icon indicated “empty.”

  • avatar

    The car was concieved and designed as a commuter for people who drive 40 miles or less per day to work. It sounds like it works as intended and advertised.

    People who buy it for it’s designed purpose will not be using much if any fuel. The car also won’t strand them if they run into bad weather, traffic jams, flat tires and other things that could arise and force them to idle in traffic or drive out of their way.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      TriShield, you assume that it will be perfect for that purpose and I’ll give you that but the problem is that outside of those narrow parameters other cheaper vecicles are much better than the Volt. By better I mean price and utility. But within the Volt’s area of expertise it will be good but most everything else will be 90% or more as good as the Volt. So the Volt’s market will consist of those people willing to buy it as a special purpose vehicle while keeping their other vehicles for for long trips, hauling, family use or whatever. Very few people iin real life will be willing to spend $35k or so to do that. Maybe $20k for a Cruze or something in that class but not $35k.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Why on God’s Green Earth would you think that someone would need to keep their other vehicles (plural noted) when getting a Volt?

      There are lots of 2-car families in this country, and usually one of those cars is entirely unsuitable for a lot of family uses. They don’t keep two commuter cars, plus 1 pick-up for hauling stuff, plus 1 minivan in case they need to take their neighbor’s kids someplace, plus 1 station wagon for long trips, plus 1 4WD for when it snows.

      The deliberate stupidity on TTAC can be pretty amazing.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Yeah Nonce stupidity is a terrible thing, how you make it through the day being so stupid? You make my point exactly, why would anyone buy a Volt except as a statement? Why buy a Volt when you can pay a lot less for something 99% as good? Maybe you can afford to do that but not that many people can. Think recession and unemployment.

      Your deliberate ideological stupidity is amazing.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Car lots are filled with models that I would never buy. Yet people keep on buying them. I must need to post on the Internet more about how foolish they are! That will stop other people from having different utility curves than me!

    • 0 avatar

      Mike, the car is doing what it was designed and intended to do. Every EV by its nature operates in narrower parameters than a normal vehicle does. The people who think otherwise are the diehards that tar and feather each other on Autoblog Green. Those people want to make a statement and this is their car. More power to them and GM despite whether or not you or I think it’s worth it. Speaking of worth it I did have the chance to sit in a Volt at the Dream Cruise and GM did a good job of making the car look and feel suitably rich and special in person.

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      As many of you know, I work for GM and these opinions are mine.
      Call me what you will, but I figure I spend $350 per month to drive a car, whether it is new or I have 100,000K miles on it. That does not count fuel or electricity.

      When I am ready to buy another car, I won’t mind spending $350/month. I want a car that I feel good in for two hours per day on my 80 mile round trip. If I buy a Volt, I can do that and burn less fossil fuels than I do today, and that includes the coal fired electricty that Detroit Edison provides for me to recharge it.

      It won’t cost me more in gas $ than I use today because I will use less of it. I won’t have range anxiety. I can use the car to drive to visit mom 300 miles away, no problem. For me it will cost roughly the same as I spend today and release less CO2 into the air. Incremental improvement in reducing my CO2 footprint at the same cost and at the same comfort level, IMHO.

    • 0 avatar

      MikeAR & Nonce,

      I’m not in charge here but I have had my hand slapped by Farago and maybe even Bertel for an inappropriately worded comment or three. We try to keep a high level of discourse here, even when we disagree, so words like stupid, particularly when directed at another commenter, should be avoided. Say it was ill founded, badly conceived, or not logical, but don’t be personally insulting.

      Obviously, Ed is letting the comments pass, but they’re pretty close to the line.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Christy Garwood: If you don’t mind spending $350/month, then you’re a car salesman’s dream. If you make payments on the Volt (after subsidy), you’ll still end up around $635 over 5 years’ time, unless you have an $18k tradein available to bring it down to your $350 target.

      Besides, if you’re commuting 80 miles round trip, I think the Volt is the wrong car for you. You’ll be paying an extra $15-20k to cut your fuel consumption in half.

      For that willingness to pay $350/month, I’d go with a Cruze, which meets your other requirements very well.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      @Christy Garwood and toxicroach:

      I think that reasonable people will see the Volt for what it is, new technology (actually it’s old technology used in a new application) that should use less fuel than driving their existing vehicles. For $350 per month on a three year lease, it’s not going to cost much more than a regular ICE car, plus the opportunity to spend less on gas, and without the range anxiety that a pure EV will give you.

      It’s stopgap technology, as toxicroach points out, but if driven less than 40 miles per trip will result in far less fuel consumed, and will lead to a trickle down effect to the point where most cars adapt a similar system, and my grandkids will view it as the norm.

      For everybody else:

      But, of course, it’s from GM, so it’s not as good as the Leaf or Prius, even though none of us have driven it. And, of course, it’s from GM, so it just has to be bad technology that nobody even asked for, kind of like the Prius when it was first introduced. And don’t forget, it was mandated by the Obama-ites and greenies in a conspiracy with the UAW and Wall Street when they secretly engineered the collapse of the American economy forcing GM into bankruptcy so that they could be coerced to build the Volt in order to save the country from the axis of car-manufacturing evil (Japan/Korea/Germany). Oh, and before I forget, GM priced it way too high, so nobody will ever buy it, but of course, had GM priced it too low, there would have been howls of outrage that they were subsidising the price with bailout money.

      There is no way GM will ever win in the autoblogosphere. Even if the IPO goes well and the Treasury recoups some of the bailout money, and the Volt is a smash hit, and GM turns in some stellar quarterly results – it will always be a conspiracy between all of the evil Democrats/UAW/Bankers/Greenies/Russians/Chinese.

      Frankly this site has become http://www.TheTruthAboutGMbecausewehateit.com

      And before I get accused of being a GM fanboi, I am still a Toyota fan and now a Ford booster (and if in doubt about this disclaimer, search my previous comments)

    • 0 avatar
      Bancho

      @gslippy:

      It was my understanding that they would be offering a $350/mo lease on the Volt and I assumed this was what Christy was referring to as far as payments go.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Bancho: Come to think of it, you may be right. I suppose we could debate the merits of leasing. It may be the only way GM moves any Volts. But I can’t imagine where they’ll go after lease, or who would want to pay for a used EV.

    • 0 avatar
      Bancho

      @gslippy:

      I can’t dispute that at all. We could easily debate the merits of leasing a car like this. On the other hand, a leasing program like that will help get more Volts out into circulation quickly than if they only offered outright purchases. Good, bad or otherwise, many of the questions raised here and elsewhere will only be definitively answered once these things are loose in the wild.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      @Monty: Your conspiracy theory is just about correct, although you spoke it in jest.

      The Volt is guilty by association with GM. The evidence against GM is great:
      1. GM’s 40-year market slide as a result of poor marketing and poor quality is legendary.
      2. Nobody asked for the Volt. Better economy, yes, but not at twice the price. Obama says GM will be producing cars ‘Americans want to buy’. That would be a change, but a $41k economy car isn’t it.
      3. The bailout remains unpopular because there is little hope of recovering the money, particularly with GM’s track record. And yes, GM’s shareholders (today, the US taxpayer) have a right to criticize the Volt when GM says the car will be unprofitable. I thought they were attempting to become a profitable company.
      4. The Volt fits cleanly with the Obama Administration’s interest in ‘green’ and the UAW, even if the Volt’s business case is faulty. So yes, Obama is part of the reason the Volt still exists.
      5. GM has had 4 CEOs over 22 months – they are unstable.
      6. GM recently stated that its financial reports can’t be trusted. What about that should give me confidence?

      I could go on. There are many reasons to hate GM. In 1988, there were many reasons to hate Hyundai, but they changed. We’ll see if GM can learn some lessons.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      As a GM employee, Ms. Garwood will also be eligible for other discounts and incentives that not all are privy to. This will further reduce her operating cost and may help to justify her purchase.

      As for myself, I can’t justify the price for my drive (90 miles round trip), the gas is cheaper. I’ll just hold my breath every once in a while, breathe more slowly and plant some trees to reduce my CO2 footprint.

    • 0 avatar
      Monty

      @gslippy –

      Fair enough; your response does touch on some points of contention and yes, there are some valid reasons to distrust GM.

      However you, like a lot of other commentors, have zeroed in on a phrase from papers filed for an IPO and have relentlessly repeated it as if it’s an actuality, not a significant risk. I’ve attached a link for the Google inital prospectus – and the risks that Google listed are common, and are comparable to the risks stated in GM’s initial filing. See attached:

      http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1288776/000119312504142742/ds1a.htm

      At the risk of repeating myself, I understand the trepidation regarding GM’s turnaround, but I don’t understand why people view the company as though it’s a static entity, still carrying on business as if it’s 1990. There is some evidence that the culture within GM is slowly changing, and it’s going to take awhile for the results to show. Be willing to entertain the thought of GM succeeding and morphing into a good corporate citizen. Hyundai did it, didn’t they?

      The fact that the Obama administration is green friendly doesn’t neccessarily correlate to GM’s Volt project – it was underway long before the Democrats won the White House.

      And for all the conspiracy adherents out there, does anybody really believe that the Democrats and the UAW are capable of creating and following through on a conspiracy that involves the banking sector, GM and Chrysler as well as Wall Street? Please. The thought that the UAW hierarchy could even create a situation that complex is laughable. They can’t even handle the resort situation without it blowing up in their collective faces.

      And my comment about the price is still valid – there is no way that GM could have ever priced the Volt without screams of anger from the autoblogosphere. Seriously, what price do you think GM should have assigned to the Volt? $29,999.00? $25,000.00? Any price you offer will be both too much and not enough. The intertubes know-it-alls will rain down upon you with so much scorn and venom that you will turn and run, tail between your legs, never to return.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      Monty: There is some evidence that the culture within GM is slowly changing, and it’s going to take awhile for the results to show. Be willing to entertain the thought of GM succeeding and morphing into a good corporate citizen. Hyundai did it, didn’t they?

      Monty, the problem is that GM doesn’t have the luxury of time. One of the problems with the “old” GM was that both management, and to a lesser extent, the UAW, thought that the world arranged itself around GM’s schedule.

      That may have been true when GM had 45-50 percent of the new-car market, but not today.

      Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Hyundai, Mercedes, BMW and even Ford(!) are not standing still, waiting for GM to get its act together.

      I’m trying to keep an open mind about the Volt, but I get nervous when each successive exposure to real production cars seems to result in lower expectations. Perhaps GM shouldn’t have hyped it as much in the first place. I also get nervous when GM talks about the NEXT generation as ironing out the nits of this one, even though the first version hasn’t been released for sale yet.

      Sometimes I wonder if the money spent on the Volt would have been better spent accelerating the introduction of the next-generation Malibu, or the Cadillac ATS, or even a revamped Silverado. Not as glamorous as the Volt, to be sure, but more likely to ensure the profitability of GM.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    Remember when DVD players were 800 bucks?

    This is a fancy toy. No, it’s not a money value in any sense of the word. It is a cool toy, and the people who enjoy being on the cutting edge of technology will snap them up. The early adopters will help get the cost down, and tech will trickle down until the technology is totally unremarkable. Eventually, this will be the model for cars, at least for a decade or two. Unless somebody figures out how to pack a lot more energy per pound into batteries, or charge them in a very very short period of time, the Volt is what a car is going to look like in the medium term, barring some really revolutionary advances in battery technology or some alternate fuel.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      toxicroach, I consider the $41k F-150 Raptor 6.2litre a “fancy toy” as the Volt is hardly “cool” or “fancy” as you call it.
      The Volt is a costly, loss-leading, tax dollar wasting, publicity stunt intended to put GM’s ‘brand’ in the forefront of cutting edge technology… if by “cutting edge” they mean last Century.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    It’ll be interesting to see the Volt on the road and how it’s being used… and if it’s idling in traffic with the AC on burning as much or more fuel as a Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Stop-and-go driving is where electric vehicles really out-perform ICE vehicles. An electric motor is about 90% efficient, regardless of speed, while an ICE can get to 20% only at speeds where wind resistance picks up.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      And in the “stop” part regenerative braking occurs – the energy of the car goes (not 100%) back to the batteries for later “go”.
      (In an ICE-only car, the braking energy goes into heat and cannot be used to move the car again).

  • avatar
    daviel

    A good question – how’s the air conditioning. Does the AC eat into the allotted 40 miles if I am idled on a freeway on a 100 degree Texas day?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      It certainly will; no energy is free. Yours is but one of many consumer questions that will dog the EV market for a long time.

      No manufacturer range claim will go unchallenged, and manufacturers won’t be able to understate their claims very much in a competitive environment.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    The railroads most assuredly DO NOT use diesel-electric locomotives because they are the most efficient means of putting power to the ground in terms of fuel use. They are NOT. A purely mechanical drive would be considerably more fuel efficient. But it just is not practical to make a mechanical drive train that transmits up to 6000hp AND can deal with the shock loads of a 20000 ton train. But a train is such a basically efficient machine in general that the 10-15% (or more) loss in efficiency is worth it when weighed against the gain in simplicity and reliability. Also, the ability to use the electric traction motors for dynamic braking is a big advantage too. Wasted on a diesel locomotive as the electricity is just turned into heat and vented. Note that the railroads have never seen any advantage in capturing that waste energy in batteries – too little gain for the cost.

    Note that the Europeans, who value efficiency considerably higher due to the MUCH higher fuel costs, have a long history of diesel-hydraulic and diesel-mechanical locomotives.

  • avatar
    Wheatridger

    Well, 27 mpg is more than twice what a tow truck might get hauling a Leaf back home after an out-of-range experience…

  • avatar
    musiccitymafia

    Does an EV really have lower total carbon emissions than an ICE vehicle? Total Carbon Emissions … not just point of operation emissions.
    - assume both cars last 10 years
    - assume manufacturing and disposal emissions are the same (even considering two sets of batteries for the EV)
    - assume both driven 30 miles per day and the ICE gets 20 mpg
    - assume fairly modern coal-fired power plant
    - assume 70% of electricity is lost in transmission from power plant to residence (therefore 3.3 times the # of kWh must be produced than are used by the EV)
    Just something I’ve wondered about for a while now.

    • 0 avatar
      SomeDude

      See http://www.nef.org.uk/greencompany/co2calculator.htm

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      Thanks SomeDude for the National Energy Foundation website.

      Assumptions simplified:
      - both cars drive 30 miles a day
      - EV uses 8 kWh per day therefore 3.3 X 8 = 26.4 kWh are produced (transmission losses)
      - ICE gets a decent 29 mpg

      Results:
      - EV creates 16 kgCO2 per day
      - ICE creates 11 kgCO2 per day

      Conclusion – EV creates more CO2 than ICE. In other words, the VOLT will create less CO2 after it’s batteries are expended and it’s driving on it’s ICE engine.

      Qualification – I can’t discern from the website, but if the calculators already take transmission losses into account than EV emissions drop to 5 kgCO2 per day.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      A 70% loss from power plant to residence is unheard of. Try 10%.

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      The 70% loss covers everything and has been around for awhile. Power plants have constant emissions because they run at a constant rate i.e. peak demand plus a little. When demand falls at 3:00 am they are still producing the same emissions. This alone would easily get to more than 10% before even starting with point-to-point transmission losses.

      I just googled and it seems looses in High Transmission Lines can be up to 30% (highly dependent on distance). I know they drop the current and increase the voltage in these lines, but the rule that “line loss is proportional to current squared” still holds. Next are losses in transformers used to get the voltage down for the next part of the journey to residences. On these low voltage lines distance dependent losses go way way up because current has gone up. There can be a number of the voltage “step down” increments between the power plant and residence.

      This is just a quick summary of a couple of the loss contributions. 70% loss rate seems plausible.

      In conceptual form, most of the explosive power in gas remains intact between the time it is extracted from the ground until it is put into an ICE vehicle. Most of the energy in a lump of coal has been lost before it reaches an EV in the form of household electricity.

    • 0 avatar
      TimCrothers

      70% electric transmission loss??? The US averages LESS then 6.5% for the WHOLE COUNTRY and that was 2007. Try reading the actual data and maybe you will stop publicly declaring your ignorance. http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/st_profiles/sep2008.pdf

      Actual EV cars use roughly 1/5th the total energy (Fuel + Maintenance + Assembly) after a 10 year period then regular ICE cars.
      http://www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/withouthotair/cA/page_254.shtml

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      I thought I made it pretty clear that I don’t know if 70% is the right number. I don’t see the 6.5% you are definatively stating is correct and in the 314 page report.
      Are you dividing “Estimated Losses as reported by the Utilities (pg 312) and which may include electricity unaccounted for by the Utilities” by the total amount generated? I don’t think this is correct as you need to get the amount received at the end-users. The losses the utility is reporting are before the power has even left the plants. Or is there something else in the report.

    • 0 avatar
      TimCrothers

      Musiccitymafia, the NEF takes transmission losses already into account but its UK losses which are lower because the UK has a much higher population density so you have to increase its estimates by 1 or 2 percent. Also your EV calculations are WIDELY off, The Volt has a 16kWh battery pack of which 8 kWh is used to travel 45 miles not 30 miles so it only uses roughly 5.28 kWh of energy thus 3kgCO2 not your insane 26.4kWh which is more energy the total Nissan Leaf battery pack and it travels over 100 miles! The Volt which is a mixed EV/ICE car is roughly 4+ times as efficient as the best gas only similar size car. The Leaf because of its lower weight and smaller size uses 4 kWh per 30 miles roughly 2kgCO2 or 5+ times as efficient as a gas car.

      Also, the calculations for US line transmission losses include “phantom losses” aka illegal power theft so its actually even MORE efficient then a straight division of produced power vs charged to customers totals (billed energy) which is what that DOE pdf is counting. You can calculate it your self or just trust the DOE summary http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/ask/electricity_faqs.asp#electric_rates2

      I’m glad we had this little debate hopeful more people can learn about the actual differences in energy efficiency and not the BS dumped out by TV pundits. I personal don’t believe ultra efficient cars are the most important element in CO2 reductions, housing insulation and lighting are way more important. But after those to items are taken car of transportation is the next biggie and you need to the infrastructure ready to handle the change and VOLT/LEAF are great first steps.

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      Thanks for trying, but we’re not getting anywhere with our discussion. The link you gave this time shows yet another loss … namely the efficiency of power plants (rather inefficiency) … in the table of energy consumed in the production of electricity from a fuel.

      “To express the efficiency of a generator or power plant as a percentage, divide the equivalent Btu content of a kWh of electricity (which is 3,412 Btu) by the heat rate. For example, if the heat rate is 10,140 Btu, the efficiency is 34 percent; if the heat rate is 7,500 Btu, the efficiency is 45%.”

      The Heat Rate for Coal in 2008 was 10,378 giving an efficiency of 32.9%. In other words, for every 100 Btu of “coal energy” the plants produce only 32.9 Btu of “electrical energy”. Using the Heat Rate for Petroleum the efficiency drops a bit to 31.1%. Losses at the oil refinery would have to be added to the total equation if Petroleum was used I suppose.

      So you see this is leading nowhere. My initial question was:

      Does an EV really have lower total carbon emissions than an ICE vehicle? Total Carbon Emissions … not just point of operation emissions.

      Best I can make out of your responses is that you believe ” The Volt which is a mixed EV/ICE car is roughly 4+ times as efficient as the best gas only similar size car.”

      I don’t know how you got to this statement. Do you read the links you forward?

      Using the Petroleum plant efficiency of 31.1% and, just for fun, assuming there are ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER LOSSES until an EV uses this electricity, is an ICE really only 31.1 / 4 = 7.8% efficient???

      I don’t know how the 70% was created nor how it got circulated, but I’m not seeing enough to dispute it either.

    • 0 avatar
      TimCrothers

      “Thanks for trying, but we’re not getting anywhere with our discussion. The link you gave this time shows yet another loss … namely the efficiency of power plants (rather inefficiency) … in the table of energy consumed in the production of electricity from a fuel.”

      HEAT LOSSES ARE ALREADY ACCOUNTED FOR IN CO2 CALCULATIONS! No fossil fuel is 100% efficent and the internal cobustion engine is absolute DEAD LAST its only gets 20% of power out each gallon of gas in the absolute most Perfect case (aka never). Nobody applies a correction saying oh my cars get 25mpg but 80-90% of that was thermal loss so I actually got 125mpg. All that matters is CO2 creation vs created electric energy PERIOD, which is what NEF is calculating.

      “Using the Petroleum plant efficiency of 31.1% and, just for fun, assuming there are ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER LOSSES until an EV uses this electricity, is an ICE really only 31.1 / 4 = 7.8% efficient???”

      Actually considering ICE is only 20% efficient in perfect conditions, in the real world with transfer losses from idling, braking, transmissions and wheels Internal combustion engines are about 15% efficient. http://fueleconomy.gov/feg/atv.shtml

      Nobody use Petroleum power for electricity in the US. The power brakedown is this:
      http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/figes1.html
      Coal 48%
      Natural Gas 21%
      Nuclear (zero CO2) 20%
      Hydro + Wind + Solar etc (zero CO2) 9%
      Petroleum 1%

      The way we create energy in the US is already cleaner by about 30% because it doesn’t create CO2 compared a gas engine. At night base load power (because nuclear/hydro stations can’t shutdown so they are cheapest to provide power at night) comes almost entirely from Nuclear, Hydro, wind and the cheapest natural gas plants which are even more efficient then the power consumed during the day. So EV’s create even less pollution if charged at night instead of the day which ICE cars can’t do. Electric cars are 4-5+ Times as efficient we calculated earlier.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      I agree with 90% of your post, except a few things.

      I don’t think Hydro operates much at night. Like natural gas, it can quickly be turned on or off, by opening or closing the floodgates. You can sort of “save up” electricity by not opening the gates until later. You would tend to want to use it when its most valuable, which is peak hours.

      Baseline power is mostly coal or nuclear, which do not lend themselves to being turned on and off. Besides, the vast majority of the costs of those plants is in the construction, with operation, maintenance, and fuel being only minor cost inputs.

      What really matters is the *marginal* nighttime KWh. And if EVs can be toggled off by the power company (like they do with every modern AC unit), they become even easier to power without using a peaking station.

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      I just replied … but it ended up in the wrong place (at bottom of all the comments instead of in this thread). In summary, I don’t see your 4-5 times efficiency claim. Not even close. Of course efficiency is really like speaking martian if you’re comparing “hydro power generated electicity” to petroleum powered cars (not even apples-to-oranges … more like bears-to-bananas).

      And again, my interest was emissions anyway.

  • avatar

    I just went on a trip to Yosemite National Park, driving 500 miles in 3 days with the Prius.
    Without ever encountering an electric outlet, of course.
    My mileage? 56 MPG.
    The Volt will have to match this.

    My point is simple: it is paramount to get good fuel economy on long trips, as well as on short commutes, for cars like the Volt to make sense.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    Christy Garwood, you ought to come on here every day and thank those of us who paid our taxes so that you still have a job and can visit here to tell us how wonderful the Volt is and how it will change everything.

    Another thing, if you are really serious about your carbon footprint rather than just spouting propaganda, move closer to your job. An 80 mile commute is too much, very wasteful of you. There are lots of great houses in Detroit close to the Ren Cen that you could buy and have a much shorter commute. You have to walk the walk if you are going to be creditable.

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      Someone owes us a good BK to become a more efficient economy. It’s part of the natural process.

      We’ll be paying off the bill that prevented nature from taking it’s course for years to come … and while being subjected to a less-efficient economy. Too big to fail is crap. Sure, bail out small companies as their contribution to the economy is small anyway. But preventing large ones from going BK is just wrong because of this double-whammy.

      Michigans’ woes are self-inflicted. Years and years of merrily plodding along while the world around it evolved. Sad.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      Hi MikeAR, I am transparent when I visit this site, I use my name, and let people know where I work. Do you?

      I voice my own opinions, no propaganda. I am a USA taxpayer and have been for decades, long before GM’s bankruptcy. Many people at all three Detroit automobile companies have been losing their jobs for 5-7 years, long before the rest of the country felt a recession. They are receiving taxpayer money in the form of unemployment benefits. According to your logic, they owe thanks, too, to taxpayers.

      Regarding my carbon footprint, I will restate my opinion: it is an incremental improvement to what I am driving today. Just like the car I drive today was an incremental improvement over the car I drove two years ago. With regard to your suggestion that I move closer to work, I suggest you educate yourself to the realities of the real estate market in SE Michigan.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @ MikeAR… How rude of me, I forgot to thank you for my monthly pension check. Oh..Oh wait its the Canadian and Ontario taxpayers I have to thank. Now that I think about it, if the US taxpayers hadn’t of stepped up? Wow this is getting too complicated for my uneducated,blue collar brain.

    Well Thank you MikeAr for the pension,oh yeah,and the buy out,oh and the car.

    Anyway I have no idea who Christy Garwood is,or if thats her real name. I can assume she is a GM salary employee,and as such she has to abide by the salary employee code of conduct.

    Insulting and baiting her,will not get a response.

    • 0 avatar

      And your snark doesn’t lessen the validity of MikeAR’s point, mikey.

      We could all do without the company-paid Government Motors cheerleaders espousing the (false) positives of the company, when you’re all doing it on OUR dime.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ Rob So in your view, Christy shoudn’t say anything positive about GM b/c its our dime.{yeah I also pay taxes} Now, what if Ms Garwood were to espouse negative views on GM?

      Well at that point Christy Garwood would be violating the terms of the GM salary employee code of conduct.

      I can’t speak for Christy,but personally,given a choice I’d rather pi$$ you off,than my employer.

    • 0 avatar

      mikey, you’re ignoring Option 3 — not saying anything at all.

      Any fawning comments on this forum about the Volt made by anyone affiliated with Government Motors are suspect. That’s nothing more than advertising — and what’s worse, those comments aren’t even intended to promote the product, per se. They’re meant to convince people to waste more of their money to save your jobs/pension.

      I know you’re retired with a pension — once again, you’re welcome for that — but I doubt Christy’s job title includes hawking company wares on a blog. That’s not what GM/the taxpayers are paying her for (and if it is, all the more reason to hate GM for wasting still more of our money.)

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      Mikey, with regard to voicing my opinion and GM’s social media policy, all employees must state that they are voicing their personal opinion. We can be positive, negative or neutral. As employees we cannot divulge GM Confidential information; if we do, that could be grounds for termination.

      I am not paid to visit this site. If I visit during my normal working hours, then I work extra to offset the time, thanks to GM’s flexible work schedule for salaried employees. Like most people here, I am voicing my personal opinion on my personal time without any funding from any government, private or public company.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      Ms. Garwood – No personal offense intended here, but when your posts read like PR releases (ie “thanks to GM’s flexible work schedule for salaried employees”), people will tend to think you are nothing more than a shill.

      I used to work for GM…..I left after realizing that it was no longer a company that valued its people. I hope that has changed. Apparently you do like your job….that is a good thing. GM could use more people with enthusiasm like yours.

      I used to buy GM vehicles (at a discount), but after three horrible ownership experiences, I no longer do. I do still own one GM vehicle, but compared to my non-GM vehicle (similar mileage, similar age, used to their design intent) the GM product is hands-down inferior. I hope this has changed at GM as well, but I personally have not seen it. The same goes for a lot of other car companies as well (Chrysler, Mitsubishi, & Suzuki are the first to pop into my mind)

    • 0 avatar
      Christy Garwood

      @1996MEdition, if you do a search on my comments here, I think you will find that I write more formally than most. If that makes you think of a PR shill, it is your perspective. I am currently an engineer in the sheet metal design area. I do not know what else to call my ability to work flexible hours other than a flexible work schedule; flex hours maybe? If you would like to corroborate my assertion that I am candid and honest, send Robert Farago an email on his new site. He called me once and we spoke directly.

      I don’t know how long ago you left GM’s employ, but in my opinion GM has changed in a positive way since oh, let’s say July 10, 2009. Yes, I am enthusiastic about GM’s products, but only if I have personal experience with them or independent factual data such as from the TrueDelta web site. If you read my posts, I do not say many negative things period. I will point out factual errors in comments and posts.

      One sign of the change at GM is a tool employees like me have to help customers like you who have had a bad experience with older vehicles. In general, that tool and new customer care policies are helping us make customers happy again. Time will tell on our new vehicles released in calendar year 2009 and 2010.

      If you want to contact me directly regarding your car troubles, please go the gm.com website and find the email addresses for our top execs. Then imitate the addresses you find using my name.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    Volt = Zero reputation, ZERO reliability history, ZERO real world ownership, 40 miles (on paper) of gas free use then 33mpg if your very light on the throttle and like to live in the slow lane. Brand new technology from the same company that recalled all their “mild hybrids” for battery leaks while achieving a measely 1mpg improvment over their conventional 4 cylinder counterparts. For 4 thousand buck more.

    Buy a Volt, be a guinnae pig, starting at only 41 thousand dollars (actual prices may vary……ALOT).
    ___________________________________________________________

    Toyota Prius = 13 years and hundreds of thousands of examples on the roads, accounting for a good chunk of the 2.6 million Toyota hybrids on the roads:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/i-see-millions-of-hybrids-in-toyota%e2%80%99s-future/

    … has a solid reputation, solid quality and 51/48 mpg whether you want to share the slow lane with the Volt or move along with the rest of us. Starting at only $22,800.

    http://www.toyota.com/prius-hybrid/trims-prices.html

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Buy a Volt, be a guinnae pig, starting at only 41 thousand dollars (actual prices may vary……ALOT).

      The Volt will never sell! Unless it does! In which case they will charge lots of money!

      Either way, GM loses!

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Zero real world ownership, but you can state 33mpg. Please have some facts ready.

      http://www.autoblog.com/2010/08/26/why-the-sub-30-mpg-claim-for-chevrolet-volt-is-misleading-w-vid/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed:+weblogsinc/autoblog+(Autoblog)

      Prius owners were once a guinea pig too.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    BTW, what will the emmisions rating be for the ICE in the Volt?

    The Prius is SULEV (Super Ultra Low Emmisions Vehicle) and the Nissan Leaf is Zero emmisions FWIW.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The problem with the Volt is the expectations placed upon it – and GM is largely responsible for this.

    I remember, during the Carter Administration, one of his appointees called upon Detroit to “reinvent the automobile.” If you’ve followed the hype surrounding this car – most of it manufactured by GM – you’d believe that GM has done just that with the Volt.

    The Obama Administration didn’t help matters. While it never claimed that the Bush-Obama bailout was designed to save the Volt, it has pointed to the Volt as a reason to be confident in the “new” GM.

    Now that it is closer to introduction, it seems that the Volt is more like a specialty vehicle with a very specific market niche as opposed to a reinvention of the automobile. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad car; but it does mean that a fair number of people may be disappointed.

    Note to GM – underpromise, and overdeliver. It never fails…

  • avatar
    Christy Garwood

    @1996MEdition, GM employees do not necessarily get a discount on all vehicles. If the demand is high and the supply low, we pay the same as other car buyers.

  • avatar
    Christy Garwood

    @mikey, thank you for your support. I use my real name here, just like others do. I am GM salary, yes.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    After reading this string of comments, I remember why I don’t visit here often any longer.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    If GM can put a man on the Moon…

  • avatar
    Revver

    Two points:

    1. “Hi this is (blah, blah) bringing you the (blah, blah) report, brought to you by Chevrolet.

    Awesome. I think “toothless” is a bit off the mark. We all know where his teeth have been. Look for fresh bite marks on the back trousers of GM PR personel.

    2. Another issue. Since the (relative market) failure of the original Honda Insight, nobody is risking innovative lightweight 2 seat transportation, which is too bad.

    I like the way Segway inventor Dean Kamen puts it “Why do you need a 4,000 pound machine, to move a 200 pound person?

    Sometimes the end of the ICE sounds a bit scary for enthusiasts, but then I imagine a nice torquey Lotus 7 kind of vehicle and all is well.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    http://www.autoblog.com/2010/08/26/why-the-sub-30-mpg-claim-for-chevrolet-volt-is-misleading-w-vid/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed:+weblogsinc/autoblog+(Autoblog)

    Some good explanations as to the Volt’s poor mileage.

  • avatar
    musiccitymafia

    I’m still struggling with the “4-5 times more efficient” statement. So I’m going to question it. Apologies for the in-elegance of my logic.

    Usage of a Petroleum power generating plant allows an apples-to-apples comparison. Let the utilities figure out what fuel they want to use to maximise profits. Side-observation – the utilities should make out alright selling excess electricity to EVs in the middle of the night without incurring additional costs.

    Here we go with my clumsy analysis/assumptions/conclusions:

    1. Assume a generous 35% average efficiency for the power plants (see petroleum, coal, hydro, or nuclear efficiencies referred to in one of TimCrothers’ links above)

    2. Assume 6.5% for losses purely in transmission from the power plant to residences.

    I don’t know how this was calculated because I don’t think utilities rack-and-stack all the usage numbers from each individual customer/residence, but people seem to think it’s reasonable.

    3. Assume EV uses 8 kWh of electricity to drive 45 miles daily

    4. Assume ICE uses 1 gallon of gas to drive same 45 miles daily

    Lets go with a Prius since it’s an ICE vehicle with “stuff added” to make it more efficient … over time more efficiencies will be found … but that’s where we are today …. this “stuff” could be added to an EV if desired.

    5. Assume 90% for efficiency of chemical batteries and electric motor in EV that convert the electric energy into usable mechanical energy to drive the vehicle.

    Yup, I made up this number based on thin air … but it’s really not that important wrt questioning the “4-5 times more efficient” statement so don’t get stuck on it.

    6. Assume 30% for the efficiency of the gas motor in the ICE that converts the petroleum energy into usable mechanical energy to drive the vehicle.

    Seems reasonable since petroleum power plants are 31.1% efficient as provided by TimCrothers’ links above … other inefficiencies of a vehicle as it runs down the road are additional and also suffered by the EV (some may say less so because it’s a simpler powertrain).

    In other words, assume the EV and ICE are similar weight and size rolling on similar tires with similar drag coefficients etc etc. Yeah, the ICE is probably not quite as efficient at getting it’s mechanical energy down to the wheels … but wrt questioning the “4-5 times more efficient” statement this assumption seems reasonable.

    7. Assume the EV needs the same amount of mechanical energy (after it’s pulled out of the batteries and converted) as the ICE does (after it’s exploded out of the fuel and converted) to propel the vehicle over the same daily distance.

    OK, NOW FOR MY SIMPLE ANALYSIS

    Start at the point where the mechanical energy becomes available … it’s right after the gas motor in the ICE or the electric motor in the EV.

    The ICE needs all the mechanical energy that can be converted from 100% of the Btu’s in 0.30 gallons of fuel to drive the 45 miles. Due to the inefficiency of the gas engine it hence needs 1.0 gallon of fuel in its tank to get this amount. This means 1.0 gallon of fuel needs to come from the oil refinery.

    The EV also needs all the mechanical energy that can be converted from 100% of the Btu’s in 0.30 gallons of fuel (Assumption 7) . We’ve been lead to believe that 8 kWh of electricity in the batteries will provide this amount. Some simple math and using the 6.5% transmission loss and 35% power plant efficiency says 1.02 gallons of fuel need to come out of the oil refinery.

    CONCLUSION

    I don’t see a significant efficiency difference between EV and ICE … and quibbling about this or that assumption will have marginal effect.

    Then there’s the fact that most of the explosive power in gas remains intact between the time it’s extracted from the ground until it’s put into an ICE vehicle. Conversely most of the energy in a lump of coal (or whatever medium you chose) has been lost before it gets into an EV in the form of household electricity.

    Now, there are advantages to an EV such as the capability to use renewable fuels, using power plant energy that was maybe going to waste anyway, getting people to drive smaller vehicles, and so on.

    But the “4-5 times more efficient” ain’t one of them if the conversation is about fuel.

    • 0 avatar
      TimCrothers

      “Usage of a Petroleum power generating plant allows an apples-to-apples comparison.”
      No it doesn’t because we don’t use petroleum in power plants basically at all. Petroleum SUCKS as an electric fuel, its only advantage is that light weight engines are cheap to build to burn it.

      Here we go with my clumsy analysis/assumptions/conclusions:

      1. Assume a generous 35% average efficiency for the power plants (see petroleum, coal, hydro, or nuclear efficiencies referred to in one of TimCrothers’ links above)

      “2. Assume 6.5% for losses purely in transmission from the power plant to residences.”

      If you assume transmission losses then you have to count the loss from petroleum production to refine and transport the fuel. Which you don’t.

      “3. Assume EV uses 8 kWh of electricity to drive 45 miles daily

      4. Assume ICE uses 1 gallon of gas to drive same 45 miles daily

      Lets go with a Prius since it’s an ICE vehicle with “stuff added” to make it more efficient”

      The stuff added is ELECTRICITY, its a partial ELECTRIC CAR. Which kills your point, simply making a car partial electric increases its efficiency by over 50% even without even using grid power. EVs have even higher efficiency.

      “5. Assume 90% for efficiency of chemical batteries and electric motor in EV that convert the electric energy into usable mechanical energy to drive the vehicle.”

      You mean assume 98% efficiency because that’s what it is for lithium ion batteries. Only 2% discharge per month, even less for per week http://www.mpoweruk.com/performance.htm

      “Yup, I made up this number based on THIN AIR … but it’s really not that important wrt questioning the “4-5 times more efficient” statement so don’t get stuck on it.”

      Which is why no one can trust you, you just make s*** up and don’t document anything.

      “6. Assume 30% for the efficiency of the gas motor in the ICE that converts the petroleum energy into usable mechanical energy to drive the vehicle.”

      No assume 15% because that’s what it is. Another number you pulled out of “thin air”.

      “In other words, assume the EV and ICE are similar weight and size rolling on similar tires with similar drag coefficients etc etc. Yeah, the ICE is probably not quite as efficient at getting it’s mechanical energy down to the wheels …”

      No its vastly less efficient, 98% vs 15% as I documented, not pulled out of “thin air”.

      “7. Assume the EV needs the same amount of mechanical energy (after it’s pulled out of the batteries and converted) as the ICE does (after it’s exploded out of the fuel and converted) to propel the vehicle over the same daily distance.”

      Do you even understand these words you are typing? EV’s don’t use mechanical energy, its CHEMICAL energy.

      “The ICE needs all the mechanical energy that can be converted from 100% of the Btu’s in 0.30 gallons of fuel to drive the 45 miles. Due to the inefficiency of the gas engine it hence needs 1.0 gallon of fuel in its tank to get this amount. This means 1.0 gallon of fuel needs to come from the oil refinery.”

      No that’s based on a Prius partial electric car, and 1 gallon of oil doesn’t create 1 gallon of petrol, you haven’t accounted for refining and transportation costs/energy. But you did for EV remember? (6.5% power transmission loss and 98% cell efficiency)

      “The EV also needs all the mechanical energy (CHEMICAL ENERGY!!!!) that can be converted from 100% of the Btu’s in 0.30 gallons of fuel (Assumption 7) . We’ve been lead to believe that 8 kWh of electricity in the batteries will provide this amount. Some simple math and using the 6.5% transmission loss and 35% power plant efficiency says 1.02 gallons of fuel need to come out of the oil refinery.”

      No the Volt a hybrid EV/ICE car uses 8kWh of power, a pure EV is lighter and even more efficient, 5.5kWh in the Leafs case (24kWh pack * 50% usage pack = 12kWh / 100 mile range = 8.3 miles per 1kWh = 5.43kWh per 45 miles.

      “I don’t see a significant efficiency difference between EV and ICE … and quibbling about this or that assumption will have marginal effect.”

      Yes, just tossing in fake numbers, bad assumptions and taking figures out of “thin air” doesn’t have marginal effect on the results. Seriously people are reading your posts and laughing their heads off.

      “Then there’s the fact that most of the explosive power in gas remains intact between the time it’s extracted from the ground until it’s put into an ICE vehicle. Conversely most of the energy in a lump of coal (or whatever medium you chose) has been lost before it gets into an EV in the form of household electricity.”

      What in the world are you talking about? I guess transporting petrol 2,000 miles and refining it costs no energy.

      “But the “4-5 times more efficient” ain’t one of them if the conversation is about fuel.”

      Seriously, send this conversation around to other people and let them read this discussion. But I think you won’t to avoid looking the fool.

    • 0 avatar
      TimCrothers

      Now try this musiccitymafia:

      Petrol is $2.70 a gallon in the US average
      http://gasbuddy.com/

      Electricity is $0.0981 per kWh in the US average
      http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_3.html

      Camry ICE (4cyl/6auto) gets 26mpg EPA
      Prius hybrid gets 50mpg EPA
      Volt hybrid gets 45 miles per 8kWh
      Leaf EV gets 45 miles per 5.5kWh

      Cost to drive 45 miles:
      Camry $4.67
      Prius $2.43
      Volt $0.78
      Leaf $0.54

      The Prius is 52% the cost of a Camry
      The Volt is 16% the cost of a Camry
      The Leaf is 11.5% the cost of a Camry

      The Volt is 32% the cost of a Prius
      The Leaf is 22% the cost of a Prius

      The Volt is 6.25 times as cheap as the Camry
      The Leaf is 8.6 times as cheap as the Camry

      The Volt is 3.15 times as cheap as the Prius
      The Leaf is 4.5 times as cheap as the Prius

  • avatar
    musiccitymafia

    WRT efficiency:

    An ICE vehicle is not efficient using fuel that’s put into it …. but the fuel that’s put into it contains most of the energy it originally had.

    The EV is efficient using it’s fuel …. unfortunately creating the EV’s electric fuel has resulted in losing the majority of the energy contained in the original fuel (petrol, coal, whatever). Some say only 30% remains.

    Stating that one is 4-5 times more efficient than the other is incorrect. If only because without using the same fuel source it cannot be calculated. If the same source is used it’s probably pretty close.

    WRT Emissions – still don’t know. If using the same fuel source probably pretty close only power plant vs tailpipe.

    WRT Costs – EV’s using excess fuel generated by power plants or subsidized by the government will win hand’s down. Unfortunately at present these costs do not include a lot of costs to the environment (for instance what are we doing with spent fuel rods?).

    • 0 avatar
      TimCrothers

      “An ICE vehicle is not efficient using fuel that’s put into it …. but the fuel that’s put into it contains most of the energy it originally had.”

      No it loses most of it to heat loss, aka barely 15%.

      “The EV is efficient using it’s fuel …. unfortunately creating the EV’s electric fuel has resulted in losing the majority of the energy contained in the original fuel (petrol, coal, whatever). Some say only 30% remains.”

      Who says 30%? You say this and provide nothing to back it up. Also most fossil fuel plants are combined cycle using excess heat energy to run secondary steam generators allowing for 55-65+% overall efficiency. Which is WAY higher then 15% from an ICE.

      “Stating that one is 4-5 times more efficient than the other is incorrect. If only because without using the same fuel source it cannot be calculated. If the same source is used it’s probably pretty close.”

      You can because we are counting hydrocarbons. The more Co2 created the more hydrocarbons in the fuel, its an exact 1:1 ratio for ALL fossil fuels, coal, oil, gas, etc.

      “WRT Emissions – still don’t know. If using the same fuel source probably pretty close only power plant vs tailpipe.”

      We don’t make large scale electricity with petrol, so it doesn’t matter. Petrol generators in the US are small scale remote village stuff and highly inefficient because they made to be cheap and portable.

      “WRT Costs – EV’s using excess fuel generated by power plants or subsidized by the government will win hand’s down. Unfortunately at present these costs do not include a lot of costs to the environment (for instance what are we doing with spent fuel rods?).”

      And neither does petrol cars, what CO2 tax do they pay? Nothing.
      The Nuclear industry does have to pay taxes to recycle and process its fuel rods. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act means ALL nuclear plants have to pay a levee for the waste they create to the government per kWh produced. Oil and Gas companies don’t pay ANYTHING.

      Seriously, please post a link to or a name of the source to your claims.

    • 0 avatar
      musiccitymafia

      My comments and opinions are unchanged.


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