By on October 13, 2010

Since we questioned Motor Trend’s decision to claim that it got 127 MPG in a Chevrolet Volt without publishing a trip log, the buff book has apparently come to terms with the fact that the Volt is “as efficient as you want it to be.” In a piece dismissively subtitled “Yes, Your Mileage May Vary. Welcome to the Real World,” MT Editor-in-Chief Angus Mackenzie publishes MT’s Volt test trip log, but not before harumphing

For decades we have routinely published “MT Observed” fuel economy numbers as part of our road test data. And apart from the odd complaint that we journalists always seem to have a heavy right foot, those numbers have drawn few comments. Until our Chevy Volt test.

No surprise, perhaps. After all, 127 mpg is a pretty big number. But, as outlined on the next page, it’s a real number. It’s what we observed during our test.

Except that nobody (here at TTAC anyway) was surprised at the size of the number. Because of the Volt’s unique drivetrain, it would have been eminently possible to record 300 MPG, given enough recharges. What was surprising is that a publication would throw out a meaningless number and then wait a day (and a call-out) to condescendingly provide the raw data behind their test. And even then, still not point out that the Volt’s post-EV range efficiency (described by MT in terms of “EV/Gas miles”) was actually under 36 MPG (in line with tests conducted by MT’s buff book “peers”). Finally, it might have been appropriate for MT to explain that, on this particular test anyway, a Nissan Leaf would have needed one extra charge (over the night of the 22nd-23rd) but would have returned infinite MPG (though the 100 mile claimed range would have been properly tested on the 23rd). But there we go being inconveniently rude again… and who are we to turn up our noses at MT’s (belated) transparency?

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

130 Comments on “Motor Trend Reveals The “Secret” To Getting 127 MPG In A Chevy Volt...”


  • avatar

    So, how about we just sum it up like this:
    For some people, the Volt will be a tremendously efficient motor vehicle. If you routinely commute 15 miles, each way, to work and you generally drive around town, the Volt might provide you with three digit MPG. Cool. There is a huge number of Americans for whom this is the reality of how they use a motor vehicle.
    Now, the real fun; do a comparison for those folks between a Volt and a Prius, VW TDI or even a bog standard, efficient compact car and see how well the Volt does when you factor in the price of gas and that $41k sticker…

    • 0 avatar
      Bunter1

      Bullseye Greg.
      The money saved by going with a number of other vehicles might just buy enough gas to fuel the vehicle for it’s entire lifetime.

      Or invested well might pay for your next vehicle purchase outright.

      THe Volt is a science project being rammed into production before it is ready.

      Bunter

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      If the point were to expend absolutely the smallest total amount of non-renewable resources, the simple answer would be to keep driving one’s current car until the wheels fall off. Driving one’s car until it hits 200k to 300k miles is unquestionably the cheapest and greenest answer.

      Burn through disposable $1k beaters, saves a ridiculous amount of upfront capital cost that balances against a huge amount of fuel.

  • avatar
    Jason

    I’m just curious.
    If you criticize MT’s tone as “condescending”, how would you describe your own in this response here?

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      I’ll go with MT’s label: “hysterical”

      I read their article a couple times, and didn’t find it condescending at all.

      Not like TTAC.

    • 0 avatar

      “Unsatisfied”… or, as I put it in the piece, “inconveniently rude.” I guess “condescending” might work too, but then I’m not the one being called out for presenting a PR-friendly “best case scenario” test as “the story that must be told.” Apparently this makes me a “dick.” Luckily I can live with that.
      Also, Mackenzie’s use of the term “hysterical” referred to those making a big deal about the fact that the Volt sometimes sends gas engine power to its wheels. Note that TTAC did not get especially worked up over that “controversy” (we’re pretty used to PR half-truths), but that we took on the mileage reporting issue specifically because it’s way more relevant to consumers than a debate about the Volt’s mechanical classification.
      MT is free to do what it thinks will get it an audience. TTAC, meanwhile, believes that OEM PR and advertising do a pretty good job of representing the “best case scenario” case for their respective cars, and that respectable auto media outlets need to actively provide the counterpoint. Thus far, however, MT is the only buff book persisting in presenting an overall MPG figure for the Volt, rather than embracing the approach to efficiency reporting found here. I’m still waiting for a convincing defense of this outlier methodology.

    • 0 avatar
      RGS920


      Oh FFS Jason and SVX.  If anything Ed didn’t go hard enough on MT.  MT’s original article was the lowest form of journalism because they basically acted as a corporate shill for GM.  You think Ed was condescending?  He should have blasted them out of the water for siding with the corporation INSTEAD of siding with there readers and disclosing all their facts and how they got the results they did.  Corporate shill indeed!
      If TTAC tried to pull this shit, you better believe everyone would have torn us apart, including TTAC commenters.  Ed laid out a well reasoned argument that points out how MT tried to pull the wool over its readers eyes just so they could get a little love from GM.  If Ed’s article prevents 1 person from wasting 40K on a car because they honestly think they will get 127 MPG in normal driving; then Ed did his job and shame on MT for each Volt buyer/leaser who is suckered in to believing the hype.
       

       

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      To me MT had a duty to break down how it got such a high mpg.  We all assume that mpg would mean only when the engine was running.  When you plug in the vehicle it uses energy (and it comes at a cost to your electricity bill) and MT should have accounted for it.  In fact there are measures of MPG equivalent for electric vehicles to help bring parity to this concern.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      I drove 37 miles to work today without plugging in my car…..infinite MPkW!!!

  • avatar
    ktm

    So on 9/21, either they got 70 miles on a single charge (unlikely) or they charged it up between trips.  Same for 9/22 – the Volt traveled 71 miles on EV that day.

    This would be valid for weekend trips, but during the weekday when commuting to work you will not have the ability to charge the vehicle in your company’s parking lot. Unless, of course, that parking lot is MT’s.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Let’s see… According to MT, it looks like MT got 40 miles when they started with a fully-charged battery, which is in line with what GM stated.

      Go re-read the second page on MT. Nothing seems out of the ordinary.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    This is incredibly deceiving for Motor Trend, and their angry response is because they got caught with their pants down.
     
    You would think it would be common sense that if you’re goal is to give consumers a fair picture of the car’s efficiency for miles per gallon of gasoline, you wouldn’t keep recharging the car with electricity and counting it towards that number.  Guess not.
     

    • 0 avatar
      Jason

      Deceiving in what way?  That seems like a realistic usage.  If they had posted that chart on day 1, rather then day 2, would people be up in arms over something, still?  They traveled 127 miles / gallon of gasoline from what I can see.
       
      Is anyone going to buy a Volt and then run it in gas-only mode?  If not, why highlight the sustained MPG of gas-only mode?  It’s not realistic to do that, either, because the device shall not be operated in such a manner.  Quick show of hands, who here is going to buy a Volt and then use it for family road-trips?

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      “Is anyone going to buy a Volt and then run it in gas-only mode?”
      Possibly so.  A couple of examples would include a “green” fleet with a driver or drivers who couldn’t care less because they have a fuel card, or someone who buys a Volt based on a short commute and then greatly increases their commute distance.  And anyone who takes one on a road trip isn’t going to be able to recharge every night.

    • 0 avatar
      Strippo

      Is anyone going to buy a Volt and then run it in gas-only mode?  If not, why highlight the sustained MPG of gas-only mode?
       
      Indeed, why highlight MPG at all?
      You can’t have it both ways with a dual fuel vehicle. If MPGs aren’t gas only miles, then the number doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t say anything meaningful. That’s the point.
      Having said that, the post-EV MPG is still damn good considering that most people won’t be dipping deeply into non-EV mode for miles and miles every day.
      The only real problem with the Volt is the “invisible hand” purchase price. It’s not economical to build, so it shouldn’t be built at all. That’s the bottom line.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Jason asks: “Is anyone going to buy a Volt and then run it in gas-only mode?”

      Every time the charge is exhausted, you will.  Or are you suggesting you never take it beyond 40 miles?  In which case, why bother with the range-extender at all?  Why not just make a better EV, remove the engine and all its support equipment and get more range, passenger capacity and cargo space?

      Jason asks: “Quick show of hands, who here is going to buy a Volt and then use it for family road-trips?”

      Without good information, how will you know whether or not you’d want to?

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      ” Is anyone going to buy a Volt and then run it in gas-only mode?”
      Well, I don’t know. Has anyone bought a “flex-fuel” E-85 vehicles and then only ever run it on conventional gasoline?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Kix,
      You miss his point.  He is saying gas only mode and implying that it would never be charged.  At home.

    • 0 avatar
      moofie

      Jason, do you suppose anybody is going to buy a Volt and never use the gas engine?
       
      The right answer here isn’t to do one set of tests and report the results with a big black line at the bottom.  The right answer is for GM to provide reasonably accurate performance data for their vehicle in electric mode, in gas mode, in town, at highway speeds, etcetera and put together a simple web site for their customers to model their expected usage and therefore get a realistic understanding of the cost-benefit analysis of buying a Volt.
      Or they could keep blowing smoke and I’ll proceed from the assumption that since they’re obfuscating the facts, they have something they don’t want me to know.

  • avatar

    MT has been nothing but paid lackeys for GM since at least 1991′s “Car of the Year” Caprice. This is nothing new — what is new is the general public’s ability to quickly disseminate the lies, and force the lackeys to explain themselves. Thank you, Internet!

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      They pander to all their advertisers, which is all the car makers.  I stopped subscribing about 10 years ago, when I realized they’d almost never declare one car “better” than another in their comparisson tests.  It was always something like “choose this car if you want a good ride and a nicer stereo, and choose that one if you want crisp handling and massive power”, when they’re testing sports cars.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    It’s no surprise then that the buff books are going the way of the dodo! They cannot tell the truth or be overly critical, what about all that ad revenue? When you consider the hype behind the volt and the fact that it’s success and the ‘success’ of the auto bailout are all tied up in one big political cluster—-, what magazine would print any negativity other than trivial stuff and put the whole shooting match at risk. Even over at autoextremist, sweet Pete is using his considerable capacity for complete nonsense to try and blow sunshine up the tailpipe of bot GM and the Volt. It’s sickening.

  • avatar
    ktm

    Jason, explain realistic usage.  How are you going to charge the car during the weekdays?  Run an extension cord from your cubical?
     
    I said this before in another Volt piece – no one in LA drives 25 to 40 miles a day for work.  They drive 25 to 40 miles one-way if not more.  There is no charging infrastructure in place at your work place. Secondly, show of hands, who spends $40k (ok, $31k) on a commuter car that seats four and only uses it for 40 miles a day.

    There is 10% unemployment in the US, more in the US’ largest car market (California, which would also be the largest “green” car market).  People are losing their homes and having to rent.  Show me rentals (apartments) that have exterior charging stations.

    Again, greenie-make-believe world must be a rather nice place to live since reality is no where to be found.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Nobody?

      I live in SoCal, and my daily commute is 9.8 miles by surface streets, or 14.8 miles going up the interstate.

      That means my round trip is 20, 25, or 30 miles, depending on the route I choose to take.

      It also means that I’m well within Volt’s “real world” all-electric range for my regular commute.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      SVX, I suppose you think everyone is just like you. You are pretty desperate to make a point to the point where you assume something ridiculous.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      Uh, I don’t think SVX is pretty “desparate” (sic) or guilty of thinking everyone is just like him.
       
      If you took the time to carefully read his post you’ll understand that he was pointing out that ktm was assuming that everyone in Los Angeles has a long commute, when in fact SVX does not. In other words, in this instance he was stating exactly the opposite of what you are accusing him of.
       
      As my late father often said, the four words or phrases that can get you in the most trouble are “everyone,” “no one,” “always,” and “never.”

    • 0 avatar
      Jason

      I have to explain realistic usage?
      Ok, first, I forgot that LA was the only place on Earth the Volt will be used.  Myself, I drive 30km’s (about 18 miles) each way.  Lack of charging infrastructure isn’t the Volt’s fault, because something has to exist before it can be supported, unless you expect businesses to build charging stations for electric cars that are not being driven.
      Secondly, unemployed people who lose homes and rent apartments are not going to be buying a Volt, so everything you said after that just stopped making sense.  Who is unemployed and spending $31k on a commuter car?  Did unemployed people buy the Prius, Fusion hybrid, or the Insight?  No, they get a used Hyundai Excel from a hairdresser on Craigslist.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      BuzzDog beg to differ there spelling cop. He was saying that just because he didn’t have a commute like the one described that commenters point was invalid. Either that or he was saying that no one matters other than him so the point is invalid.

      Oh yeah, the sic thing is really cool, haven’t seen that in a long time. I think you had better not make any mistakes in spelling grammar or anything else. I’m not perfect and neither are you. Good luck.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      Grow up, and quit being so antagonistic.  I’m out of here.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Why do people say that they don’t buy 40k commuter cars?  Ever seen BMW, MB, Lexus in lots?  How about Ford F150s, Tahoes, Suburbans, etc etc?  People buy expensive cars and do commute with them.  Most people don’t buy 50k cars and drive them on the weekend.  Most people don’t have a weekend car.  Now, I am not saying that a BMW, MB, Lexus buyer will automatically go and buy a Volt.  But they will find the people to buy the first round of them.  $350 a month and less gas bills will be appealing to many people, the same way that the Leaf will bill.

    • 0 avatar

      BMW, MB and Lexus buyers could care less about fuel economy, for the most part, as they have enough disposable income to cover that with little to no worry.  Most people who want a fuel-efficient commuter are more likely to gravitate to cars under the $25k mark.  As a commuter, I wouldn’t go for a $40k car that, at the end of the day, doesn’t offer any advantages over a cheaper Prius or, better yet, a nicely equipped 4-cylinder Fusion or a lightly optioned Impala.
      I don’t see a reason to buy the Volt, unless you really want to take advantage of the tax breaks.  If you’re a fleet manager that does this sort of thing and the numbers pan out for you, go for it.  I’ll be taking a look at a 4-pot Fusion.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      John,
      Using the same reasoning, there is no reason to buy any hybrid on the market today.  They come with a premium that takes YEARS to over come.  But, my point was that people do buy expensive cars and commute with them.  No one said that this car was for everyone.  But, at $350 dollars for the lease, this is hardly going to break the bank for any potential Volt buyers.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      @Mike: Um, what?

      ktm said: “no one in LA drives 25 to 40 miles a day for work”.

      I simply disproved his hyperbole from a factual standpoint. The fact of the matter is that at least one person in LA drives 25 to 40 miles (or less) a day for work. I never used any exaggeration or broad language, like “everyone”. I only spoke for myself as a real-world counter-example. How that’s a problem, I have no idea.

      Which, is really a lot of the Volt mileage “discussion” in a nutshell. You’ve got guys like ktm with major hard ons for bashing GM and the Volt, and you’ve got actual facts to consider. Sure, if the point is all bluster and noise, it’s a free country and people can yell all they want. Just don’t forget that reality intrudes in an inconvenient way. And for pity’s sake, don’t get all defensive when the occasional real fact shows things to be different.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Oh yeah, my point is that ktm’s statement *is* invalid.

      If one were to do a little homework, the *average* LA commute is a whopping 30 minutes. That’s right, 30 minutes. Go ahead and Google it to find legitmate reference sources.

      With typical commute speeds of 20 to 40 mph (due to stoplights & traffic), that means the typical commute distance is between 10 and 20 miles. Doubling to 20 to 40 miles round trip, and you see that roughly half of LA commuting population could use something like the Volt.

      I’m not discounting the fact that some people have long commutes. They exist, and I even know some at work. But they are proportionally uncommon.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      To Jason:

      “Lack of charging infrastructure isn’t the Volt’s fault, because something has to exist before it can be supported”

      Kind of like 100 years ago when, if you had an automobile, you had to visit a livery stable for gasoline! We appear to be on the cusp of real change in auto technology. If not, we’d better be, for we must find an alternative that is practical and really works and is just as convenient as a standard ICE engine, ’cause giving up personal transportation is not practical in most areas of the country. Is the hybrid it? Is something like the Volt it? Something different? Fuel cell? I certainly don’t know.

  • avatar
    Syke

    When are you guys going to finally admit that the real Truth About the Volt (and any car that follows with like technology) is that it obsoletes the traditional way of figuring gas mileage?  And that’s the only real story here.  What Motor Trend did was no different than what I do at every fill-up:  Note the mileage from the last fill-up, note the amount of gallons just pumped into the tank, divide to get fuel mileage.  That doesn’t work anymore – at least on the Volt.
     
    Oh yeah, something that mundane is nowhere near as enjoyable as blaming GM for . . . . . well, something.

    • 0 avatar
      kjs

      + 1. My thoughts as well.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Where did the 214 miles in EV mode come from?  Fairy dust?

      The report is incomplete.  The vehicle is all about fuel economy (or how much fuel you didn’t use) and it carries a lot of compromises to accomplish that mission.  Failing to explain how one arrived at 127mpg is crappy journalism.

    • 0 avatar
      MarkySparky

      Every December I drive 1500 miles round trip to see my wife’s family for the holidays.  Sometimes friends ride along.  Sometimes they split the gas bill.  Last winter “I” only had to put 15 gallons of gas in the car during the trip, giving “me” 100 mpg!  I also didn’t have to control the wheel, brakes, or accelerator for hours at a time! I call it the “going-Dutch-range-vehicle”.  Effing revolutionary technology… And in a GM car to boot!
      Anyone reviewing the Volt’s mileage who doesn’t detail the charge/gas/CS/EV stuff IN THE FIRST DRAFT deserves to be mocked for poor reporting (at the very least).

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      How much energy is in a gallon of electricity?  MPG is a meaningless number when most of your fuel doesn’t come in the form of “gallons”.  Hybrids need the following numbers on their sticker…
      EV mode
      Range, city/hwy
      kwh/100 km, city/hwy
      Recharge time, 120V/240V
      Hybrid mode
      mpg, city/hwy (preferably phased out in favor of L/100km)

  • avatar
    niky

    I think at this point, the entire MPG thing has GOT to go out the window.
     
    We’re seeing MPG numbers that are all over the place… but they simply do not answer the question:
     
    How much does it cost ME to run the Volt? In dollars? I charge it at home, at work, at a public station… how much of my money goes into every gasoline-free mile?
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      ktm

      niky, that would be a very valid means of evaluating the cost effectiveness of the Volt.  However, you also have to take into account the purchase price of the vehicle, not just the  cost to run the Volt.  Otherwise I could buy a $500,000 car that only costs me $1 a year to run and come out the winner.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      I always include purchase price and devaluation in such calculations, and it’s never pretty.
       
      It’ll also never come out in favor of the $40k electric hybrid… rather… more in favor of a Honda Fit and a bicycle. Or mostly the bicycle.
       
      But people can calculate the cost of the vehicle against the cost per mile themselves. What’s important is that you give them real-world cost-per-mile figures… not this “it’s electric, I’m not paying for the gasoline!” hooey… because you certainly are paying for the electricity. Granted, you are paying a whole lot less for the electricity than you are paying for gas… but people have a right to know what to expect.
       
      Wouldn’t be surprised if the Leaf was more economical per Kw/H than the Volt. Which would probably hurt the Volt no end.

    • 0 avatar

      niki,
       
      Bicycle fuel isn’t cheap either.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Hmmm… good point.
       
      Let’s see… a Big Mac costs about $3.73, at 576 calories.
      http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-big-mac-i21111
      http://www.economist.com/node/16646178?story_id=16646178
      Cycling costs about 40 calories per mile (approximate… there really is no set figure)
      So that comes out to about $0.26 per mile. Pretty cheap!
       
      (more scribbling)
       
      Of course, compared to the $0.04 – $0.07 per mile cost of gasoline and electricity… not so… but then…
       
      (more scribbling)
       
      You’ve got to add $.020 or so per mile in terms of depreciation to the Volt…
       
      (more scribbling)
       
      I’m sorry… what were we discussing again? I guess the lesson is, don’t buy your bike fuel from McDonald’s…

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      ktm,
      Purchase price will be negotiated.  It is easy to see what it would be.  The much more difficult calculation is how much would it cost to run in EV mode.  Most people aren’t used to calculating kilowatt hours in miles.  Besides, purchase price doesn’t mean much if you lease it for $350 a month.

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      Niky, +1. Funny and apt! Totally agree that Hybrids/EVs should be measured with a different yardstick.

  • avatar
    ktm

    Wow, creative license is dead.  You are the exception.  If everyone here had your commute, I-5, I-405, I-10, I-15, CA 57, CA 22, CA 60, CA 91, CA-118, I-710, I-605, and I-210 would be clear.

    People live in Lake Elsinore, Corona, Chino, Chino Hills, Norco and Palmdale and commute to Orange County and Los Angeles County.  People live in Rancho Cucamonga and commute to the Los Angeles area.

    I, too, had a very short commute for a little while and the Volt would have…..no, it wouldn’t.  There is that thing reality again.  So, I buy a $31k 4 door mid-size sedan so I can transport myself, and just myself, to my workplace 9.8 miles away.  I won’t use the car at all for any other purpose – no weekend trips, no errands – simply to and from work.  I do not mind the subsidized $8k premium over the Prius that will do the same and cost me less money over the typical ownership period of 5 years (hell, most people have cars around 3 years).
     

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      First off, the sky isn’t falling.

      Second, not everybody wants to spend half their life in their car, commuting.

      Third, learn to reply in topic.

    • 0 avatar
      ktm

      You are correct, no one wants to spend half of their life commuting – I sure don’t.  However, that is the fact of life for many people in the greater Los Angeles area, greater San Francisco Bay area, hell, even Sacramento.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Wow, you’re dumb.

      Los Angeles has a population of how many people?

      Based on the freeways you picked, you’re covering the entire LA basin of roughly 15 Million people (go ahead and check).

      Of these, roughly 1/3 are employed (you can check this, too), so we’re looking at 5 Million employees, most of whom (est. 80%) are working regular office hours, so 4 Million rush-hour commuters.

      If half of them (see above) drive 20+ miles each way (requiring freeways), then that’s 2 Million drivers on the freeways. With the vast bulk of them in single cars (because LA mass transit sucks and can be largely neglected), that’s a net of roughly 1.5 Million cars all trying to drive on the same freeways at about the same time, with another 1.5 Million cars who can make some use of freeways if the congestion ever went down.

      No wonder the freeways always suck at rush hour.

  • avatar
    JKC

    Let’s face it, kids: there’s no reproducible way to calculate the real-world mileage on this sort of vehicle. There are too many variables, based on interval between and availability of recharges.
    I drive about 25 miles to work. If there was a charging station in the parking garage where I work, I’d be able to drive a Volt sans gasoline the vast majority of the time. Subtract the charging port, and I’d be driving home with the gasoline engine running. How does GM, EPA or MT account for that?
    People looking at this sort of car are going to have to do their own homework on this type of vehicle, at least for now. The more you access you have to an electric outlet, the lower your operating costs are going to be.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Consistent tests can help you get a handle on which of your choices is likely to help minimize costs.

      You want to look at tests that give a range of numbers for your EV range and then a range of values for your post-charge gas fuel economy.  From there you can make an educated guess as to how the car will work for you.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Kix,
      You would have to buy the vehicle to do all of these tests first.  How much elevation change is on your commute?  What is the average daily temp?  Do you use the AC or heater?  Do you…
       
      I agree that this is going to be hard to really put into a standardized test for this particular vehicle because of its driving habits.  I think the same will be true for the plugin Prius.  One allows more EV miles, one probably gets better MPG afterwards.  What are electricity costs in your area?  What is the gasoline cost in your area?
      The idea behind the Volt is to use as little gas as possible.  Properly using the car would have significantly less energy cost than a conventional car.  I understand that range extending MPG is important, but far less important than the miles you can travel without using range extension.
      I am going to guess that a MPGe number will be generated for this type of vehicle.  Who knows what the calculation will be.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      No, you don’t have to get completely anal-retentive with testing.  One just needs a consistent test methodology to determine a value.  Consumers pick based on “better” and “worse” where their tolerance for “worse” in particular categories (comfort, fuel economy, power) is a matter of their own personal preferences (some don’t care about the stereo, others hate underpowered cars).

      Just because few get the EPA mileage on any particular car doesn’t mean it’s worthless; it’s a perfectly useful general guide.  Same with testing EVs.  

      All the same, nobody needs an MPGe number that’s worthless.  If you publish X mpg for a car with a Y gallon tank and I can’t use it to compute the range of the car as X * Y, then the MPGe number is worthless.

      The only one that benefits from an MPGe number is the first EREV automaker out of the gate because this worthless number can be waterboarded to look much better than a regular MPG number.  The last I knew, the EPA wasn’t a marketing arm of GM, even if GM thinks otherwise.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    Except for hobbyist-hyper milers, I think most Volt users will do a lot of gas only driving.
    People are accustomed to going where they want to when they want to.
    Convenience and necessity rule.
    It will be easy to rationalize and feel natural since they’ve been driving on gas all their life.
     
     
     

  • avatar

    If you don’t use any gas you can’t get any mpg.

  • avatar
    FleetofWheel

    So the Volt is kind of like a diet shake with a Snickers bar taped to the side in can you get really hungry.

    • 0 avatar
      slow kills

      Yes.  Very similar to when McDonald’s touted the healthiness of their salads by not including the giant packet of ranch dressing.  Or the candy bar that seems like a healthy serving, but is actually more than one serving.
      Tell me what each mode achieves independently, and stop the fuzzy math.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      “…like a diet shake with a Snickers bar taped to the side of the can in case you get really hungry.”
       
      I’ve GOT to remember that analogy…it’s both priceless and perfect.
       
      I’m also tired of the “MPG equivalent” smoke-and-mirrors.  Tell me the vehicle’s efficiency in each mode and trust that I’m intelligent enough to do the math, or provide a website that helps me do the calculation.
       
      Of course, my running costs would be skewed if my employer allowed me to plug in at the office (fairly likely) so at the very least I suppose my trip home would be at little cost. I purposely avoid saying “no cost” because the electricity cost would come from company profits, which theoretically would impact my compensation.  Just sayin’…there’s no free lunch.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I have to side with Ed on this one.  MT’s disingenuous “Gee, nobody griped about our mileage figures before” stance makes no sense considering the revolutionary nature of Volt’s drivetrain.  The data should have been in the original story, it’s a no-brainer.  I will say Ed’s parting dig about the Leaf seems premature, there will be plenty of time for that once both these cars are on the road and can go head to head.

  • avatar
    wallstreet

    I bet MT is drinking the GM’s IPO Kool-Aid .

  • avatar

    The only way to measure the “fuel mileage” of the Volt is on a cost basis. How much does the gasoline cost and how much does the electricity cost?

    I suspect that as EVs and assorted hybrids proliferate we’re going to switch to a cost per mile as opposed to miles per gallon.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The problem with cost is variability: when cost changes based on the market price of gas and the local utility rates, any cost figure would be problematic.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      It is also problematic because the cost varies on how much EV usage you do.  I agree, a cost equivalent would be nice, just very hard to come up with.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      No- because you’d need a new sticker every month, and in every city.  Electricity cost can vary by over 600% around the country, while gas is probably more like 20% max.  Both numbers change all the time, making year-to-year comparissons meaningless.

      Just tell us how much energy it uses (in kilowatt hours) to go a give distance if it’s using electricity, and how many gallons of gas it takes to go that distance if it’s using gas.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      What Carve said, and the EPA is going to have to come up with some standard for estimating the range of the vehicle while running on battery power.  Yes, your mileage may vary, but at least it would be a standard baseline for comparison.  Of course manufacturers will try to game their vehicles to max out the EPA rating, but they do that now with ICE vehicles.  No system is perfect.

    • 0 avatar
      Jimal

      I don’t think the price issue is an issue. Just as they indicate the annual fuel cost based on a general price of gallon per fuel you do the same thing based on a general price per kilowatt hour.

      I believe we’re getting to the point in this thread, and in the Volt discussion, of noise. It is becoming a swinging dick contest to see who can come up with the most obscure (and therefore brilliant) way of splitting hairs and dicing the numbers to support their point. Next topic please.

  • avatar
    mcs

    The problem with MT is that they seem to be pretending electricity is free. It isn’t. According to the DOE the average rate for electricity in California is 15.51 (11 where I live) cents per kilowatt hour. That means $1.51 in CA to charge the Volts 10 KWH battery pack when it’s empty. Seems cheap, but that $1.51 gets you only 25 to 50 miles according to GM.
     
    Lets say you have a 40 mile round trip commute and you manage to get 40 mile range – you’re one of the lucky ones that never has to buy gas. It’s not hard to find non-EV that will go 40 miles on a gallon of gas (our Prius avgs 50.1 commuting) and gas in my area runs $2.70. So going all electric in my area is saving what – about $1.60 a day?
     

    • 0 avatar
      Jason

      As the years go by, don’t we all expect gas to rise in cost vs. electricity?  We’re running out of one and getting better at generating the other.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      “The problem with MT is that they seem to be pretending electricity is free. It isn’t. According to the DOE the average rate for electricity in California is 15.51 (11 where I live) …. “
      The DOE neglects to reflect the reality of California’s the more you use, the more you pay tiered pricing. The actual incremental cost of another kwh to me here in Northern California is $.39, not $.1551.
       

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Jason,

      Yes, over the long haul, we do expect gas prices to rise.  However, will they increase significantly enough to warrant concern before the Volt you buy this year wears out?  Nobody knows!  And consumers never seem to think beyond the first payment.  When gas is $1.59, we buy lots of Tahoes and Silverados.  When it spikes to $3.19, there’s a line around the block for Priuses and even Aveos.  When gas falls back to $2.59 and we get comfortable with it, Prius and Aveo sales slack off and the Tahoes and Silverados start to move again.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      The question is… charging losses? It would be nice if one of these reviewers hook up the Volt to a separately metered charger to accurately track how much house current is required for a regular charge (a quick charge will definitely be more expensive).

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      The volt uses a little over 8kwh.  So, your numbers are a bit off.  Try moving to TX though.  Electricity here is pretty cheap.  8 cents a kwh.  Right now, I am paying about 6.4 cents.
       
      And your comparison to the Prius might not be as important to someone who is driving say another car that gets 15-20mpg.  Maybe they go for a Prius or maybe a Volt or maybe a Leaf.  I doubt many Prius owners are looking to buy a Volt to say $1.60 a day.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs


      Here are a couple of formulas that are useful for comparing the vehicles:
       
      g / ((k * c) / r)
       
      where g = the cost of gas per gallon
      k = the amount of power needed to charge the pack
      c = the cost of electricity in kilowatt hours
      r = the range of the vehicle
       
      this produces a psuedo-mpg rate that you can use to compare with a conventional vehicle. It takes into account all of the different factors and synthesizes a number that everyone is familiar with.
       
      So, in Texas at .08 cents a KWH, 2.50 per gallon, 40 mile range & using the 10kwh charge for the pack, we get 2.50 / ((10 * .08) / 40). That produces a rate of 125 mpgs – not bad. But move to John Horners neck of the woods where I suspect more people will be buying Volts and the numbers are different.  .39 for electricity and $3.15 per gallon for gas. Probably less range than 40 because of the hills, but let’s stick to 40. For John, I get a psuedo-mpg rate of 32 mpg.
       
      As simpler version of the equation (as suggested by John Horner) is cost per mile. So, in the NoCal example the cost per mile is (k*c)/r or .0975 cents per mile. For a Prius at 50 mpg and $3.15 per mile the cost per mile is .063 cents per mile. Actually, I think I think John is right and this might be the better comparison method, although the MPG number is useful for quick comparisons when you don’t have a calculator of good mental math skills.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    MT has never had any credibility. I’m a subscriber just because they almost give the things away. But I always read it knowing full well that I have to read between the lines to get the true story. It’s a shame about Lieberman, he burned all his credibilty with one story. And Peter DeLorenzo has pretty much destroyed AutoExtremeist by his rant today. That’s too bad because I have been reading it for years.

  • avatar
    JDavis

    Drive the car cross country, say 1,000 miles, at interstate speeds and tell me its MPG.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    What is the range, and how much does it cost to fill up?

    How many gallons per mile? How much electricity per mile? How much does it cost to fill up with gas? And how much does it cost to recharge?

    What is the actual cost of using it in EV mode only? And what is the actual cost of running it only on gas?

  • avatar
    daviel

    The problem is that as nice as an EV may be for some people, if you only drive 40 miles a day you’d be just as well off driving a golf cart.  This is all PR hype.  Maybe they should have just built a miniature diesel-electric locomotive with tires.  I have lost faith that the US auto industry can build such machinery that will work.  The sad fact is that the Volt will most likely be another Detroit/GM POS that nobody can fix.

  • avatar
    drifter

    Heard on talk radio today:
    Obama is planing to use his arab buddies in middle-east to raise the gas prices for giving Volt a better chance to succeed, to complete the socialist take over of auto industry.

    PS: I am not a witch.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    To rate the Volt, other than in Miles Per Charge with a sidenote of its ICE MPG, kWh per charge and its premium unleaded requirement, is just silly, MotorTrend. The 127 MPG on a mixed cocktail of charging cycles and fuel burning leaves more questions than it answers.

  • avatar
    musiccitymafia

    Seems to me MT assumed there were no “equivalent gallons of something” burned to make the electricity they pumped into the Volt over their test period. Sort of a glaring ommision IMHO.

    Maybe fuel efficiency should reflect miles per (0.85 gallons of gasoline + bushel of corn) … or miles per (0.85 gallons of gasoline + bushel of corn + cubic foot of coal) … or miles per (0.85 gallons of gasoline + bushel of corn + cubic foot of coal + spent fuel rod) … and so on

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Total miles driven and total amount of fuel used.  It’s a very simple concept.
     
    Now…where did TTAC get lost?

    • 0 avatar
      Ingvar

      So, electricity is free, you mean? The cost doesn’t count as long as the energy comes out of a cord?

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      Z71_Silvy,

      127mpg implies that I can charge the battery, fill the 9 gallon tank and go 40+(127*9) = 1183 miles.

      Can I?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not simple, it’s stupid.  MPG is miles per gallon.  They didn’t go 127 mpg because most of it didn’t use gas.  So if they always shut it down when gas started being used they could achieve 1000 mpg!  Meaningless and stupid.  It should miles per gallon WHILE GAS IS BEING USED.

      John

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      That’s a fantastic idea!  I’m going to make a zero-emissions electricity generating station.  Instead of using coal, gas, or nuclear, my plant will be powered by electricity generated somwehre else.

      Start up costs will be minimal, too.  All that will be required is a thick piece of cable and an office and badda bing- zero emissions electric plant.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    MT’s report is absurd. Reporting “fuel economy” while only counting one of the two fuels used (gasoline and electricity) is nonsensical.
    A plug-in hybrid should have two types of numbers reported: 1) Miles per kwh when run in electric only mode. 2) Miles per gallon when run in batteries depleted, gasoline engine powered mode. 3) Report the usable range for test 1). With this information a reasonable consumer could then estimate what their fuel usage of both types would likely be for the trips they have in mind.
    BTW, a pure electric vehicle would of course only need to have scenario 1) tested and reported on along with information on the expected range and how one goes up recharging it.
     

  • avatar
    kkt

    Motor Trend was stupid to count MPG when most of the miles were per KWH, not per gallon.
    That said, of course this isn’t the car for everyone.  It could make a pretty good commuter car for someone who wanted impeccable green credentials and/or was a true believer in using as little petroleum as possible.  Or in order to justify a gas hog for a weekend toy.  Sure, people with long commutes wouldn’t buy it because of the range, but the U.S. average commute distance is reported at 16 miles, so a round trip would fit inside its range for more than half the people.

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    Yesterday we had a big expose about the Volt gasoline engine providing partial power to the wheels.
     
    Today we hear that Motor Trend gave an iffy mileage figure for the Volt.
     
    This is not what I would call The Truth About Cars. More like nit-picking about cars. Seeing mountains where I see molehills. Creating tempests in teapots.
     
    I can see the fluff here. Where is the substance?
     
    Motor Trend may have flubbed their mileage number. But their review of the Volt was, to my eyes at least, well written. Very fair. Very informative.
     
    I hope TTAC can do as well with its Volt review. Or better yet, better.

  • avatar
    niky

    Uh… did we miss the part where Motor Trend counted miles driven on electric as free? (in essence… no counting the number of KwH used to drive in electric mode?)
     
    Really? Go on, then.

  • avatar
    car_guy2010

    I don’t bother with MT anymore because their magazine is nothing but fluff, lacking in substance.
    I can’t even stand the advertisements of that smug looking Shell guy holding up copies of MT and C&D. They’ve sunk pretty low if they need to find subscribers using some b.s Shell puff-piece.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    So  I guess the Volt magically recharges itself for free. It may not have used any gasoline to do so, but someone is stuck with an electric bill from hell. So how much coal and diesel fuel,  along with Nuke power, do we show on the window sticker?  Will it’s precious emissions rating include emissions from the local power plant?
    If you use solar panels to charge the Volt over a three day period you can bask in smug superiority over us fossil fuel fools.
     

  • avatar
    dieselone

    The main issue I have with MTs test is they didn’t account for how many watts of electricity were used to recharge during the test.  That matters unless you plug into your neighbor’s house and if your employer will allow you to plug in at work for free.  Just calculating gasoline mpg doesn’t paint a complete picture, unless of course all you care about is gas mileage and think electricity is free.
    I have an electric golf cart.  It gets infinite gas mileage, but it does cost me about $20/mo in electricity when I charge it roughly once or twice per week.

    It would also be nice to know how many gallons of gas are needed to recharge a fully discharged battery with the on board powerplant for when you don’t have access to electricity. I’m assuming the Volt has the ability to fully recharge it’s batteries on it’s own, say while parked.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      You either have the highest rates of electricity in the world, the worlds largest golf cart with huge inefficient battery, or you are just guessing on how much it costs.
       
      In TX, $20 in electricity gives you about 250kwh (8 cents a kwh).  That would be enough to charge the volt, which uses about 8kwh a charge, 31.25 times.  Say your rate is double that at 16 cents a kwh, you are talking about charging it 15 times.  If it is double that, say at 32 cents a kwh, you get close 8 charges.

    • 0 avatar
      dieselone

      You either have the highest rates of electricity in the world, the worlds largest golf cart with huge inefficient battery, or you are just guessing on how much it costs.
      Actually all of the above.  It has 4 12v lead acid batteries that are no longer in tip top shape since they are 4 years old, plus lead acid batteries will discharge some while not in use, so I lose some of the charge when it sits unplugged during the week.  I keep it at a seasonal campsite which I pay 15 cents a kilowatt/hr.  My $20 guess is based on the increase of my electric bill for the campsite directly after I bought the cart during peak summer use when it would get fully recharged at least 2x per weekend.  It’s roughly $20/mo extra vs. before we had the cart.
      Also realize you do lose energy in the charger.  The clubcar charger with my cart gets hot during a charge, so some energy has to be lost in the process.
      I wasn’t trying in anyway compare an electric golfcart to a volt.  They are completely different.  With over 400lbs of lead acid batteries, a golf cart still has a hard time going over 30 miles on a charge then needs 12+ hours to recharge.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    The Volt charger is 220v isn’t it? Even if you could charge at work for free can you imagine the wires snaking across to multiple Volts in an office park parking lot? Or the expense of putting a charging station at each parking space?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      You can use 220v or 110v.  Just takes longer at 110v.
       
      Companies wouldn’t put in charging stations like that.  It would be a few parking spots that have the wiring underground to a station that is beside the car.  You simply drive up to it and park.
       
      Your thinking would suggest that a gas station would have hoses every where coming from central location instead of a line of stations you pull up to.  You can do it in a nice way.  Especially since the outlet for the Leaf, Volt, and plugin in Prius are standardized now.

    • 0 avatar
      M 1

      Steven, I’m guessing if it took 8 or 10 hours to fill your tank, the gas station model would be very different.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    What this entire episode tells me that everyone in the business knows the domestic auto industry is in peril and the major print magazines have circled the wagons to put the best face forward for public viewing as possible to prop it up. The problem with this is a website like TTAC which sees through the hype and exposes the tainted /unproven data, for better or for worse, for what it is. ( I love TTAC, by the way! ) What is the actual “truth”? I’m not certain anyone really knows at this point. I feel this will come out over a period of time after this machine has been in real-world usage when actual owner experiences are recorded and published. Until that time, however, I’m not sure if tearing something down, or being overly dismissive of something “new” accomplishes anything, either. Until I know more and can filter out excess “baloney”, I’ll have a stronger opinion, personally experiencing Volt ownership, notwithstanding. Until then, I’ll withold any opinion, as I’m not a professional in this industry, and wait and see.

  • avatar
    Blobinski

    How about a cost per mile calculation for the Motor Trend Trip, including the electricity used?  Also what is the cost of installing a charging station?  I am sure this will be subsidized by the utility or GM.  What is interesting is that many utilities charge more for electricity at peak times and loads.  E.g. imagine charging the car at peak times with a dead battery over a 220V connection 15 times per month?

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      There are Gov’t subsides for the charging station.  This applies to the Leaf and Volt today.
      You would be crazy to charge at peak times.  There are applications to set the time for when you want the car to charge.  Peak hours are during the middle of the day.  Most people will be charging the car at night with much cheaper rates.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      You won’t always have a chooice when you can charge so you won’t be able to optimize your rates. Also another point, government subsidies are paid by taxpayers. Nothing is free, there is a cost to everything paid by someone. Basic economics there, learn it, live it.

  • avatar
    carve

    How much energy is in a gallon of electricity?  MPG is a meaningless number when most of your fuel doesn’t come in the form of “gallons”.  Hybrids need the following numbers on their sticker…

    EV mode
    Range, city/hwy
    kwh/100 km, city/hwy (and you MUST include charging losses- that’s kwh running through my power meter- not coming out of my battery)
    Recharge time, 120V/240V

    Hybrid mode
    mpg, city/hwy (preferably phased out in favor of L/100km)

  • avatar

    ” a Nissan Leaf would have needed one extra charge”
     
    Unless I’m reading the chart wrong the Volt recharged 4 times and traveled a total of 299 miles. I don’t really understand the statement above?!?  Actually if anything the leaf would have been able to do this with one less charge then the volt.
    Man I can’t wait until the leaf and volt are in the hands of “real” people.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    One of the factors that  will affect the Volt fleet’s gas mileage is a psychological issue that’s going to take time to emerge.

    That is:  Plugging in the Volt every opportunity is going to become a PITA.  At first it’ll be fun and novel, but later on, coming home in the rain or snow, or late from a weekend evening out or just in a hurry to get the groceries in the house, people are going to stop consistently plugging the thing in.

    There’s no way around this fact.  Hassling with a dirty electrical cord (like dealing with a garden hose) is going to get you dirty. Your wife will want a pair of cotton gloves to handle that dirty cord, or she’ll want you to go out to the garage and plug it in after dinner.

    I’m quite serious about this. This headache will limit the number of repeat buyers for the Volt and the Leaf.  One of the great triumphs of the Prius is that it asks nothing special from the operator. The novel technology never requires extra effort from the owner as the Volt will.

    Prophet of doom?  Nah.  Pessimistic about the success of the Volt in the real world? You bet!

    P.S.  Motor Trend is a classic example of how, although staff members come and go, corporate culture remains.  They’ve been the least useful and believable of the car rags since -at least- 1971 when they chose the Vega as ‘Car of the Year’ and followed it in 1972 with a Citroen.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      I can see a new version of the flaming dog poop trick. Find a neighbor or neigbors who have a plug-in and after they get home in the evening and plug up outside, then wait until dark and sneak in their yard and unplug them. Before they get up sneak back and plug them in again. Imagine the hilarity in the morning when they goi to work.

    • 0 avatar
      1996MEdition

      Some are already trying to get around the plug and use inductive charging:

      http://www.witricity.com/pages/application.html

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    To address the issue of what to call the Volt, I propose the term “gas electric.”
     
    It’s not an electric-only car, like the Leaf, so it’s not an “electric.”
     
    It’s not a hybrid like the Prius.
     
    It’s not a regular ol’ ICE car.
     
    The Volt strikes me to operate in the same way as diesel-electric locomotives. A generator on board produces electricity and that electricity is used by an electric motor. The train could theoretically run with the gas motor turned off if a large enough battery could supply stored electricity. So, in the name of consistency, why not refer to the Volt as a “gas electric” as opposed to the “diesel electric” trains which have a similar propulsion concept.

    • 0 avatar
      Daanii2

      It’s pretty standard in the electric car industry (in which I play a modest part) to refer to a car like the Volt as a series hybrid. (Just like the diesel-electric locomotives you mention.) The Prius, on the other hand, is a parallel hybrid.
       
      GM’s emphatic insistence that the Volt is not a hybrid seems odd. Almost self-defeating. Not to mention not true.

    • 0 avatar
      Amendment X

      That clears it up!

  • avatar
    V572625694

    Motor Trend? Is that still being printed?

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I agree that calculating a MPG figure without taking into account total energy consumed leaves out a big part of the story.  But so does arguing about power plant emissions and transmission losses for charging an EV but ignoring all of the energy used to get that gasoline from the ground into a refinery and then delivered to the gas station.  If you want to talk about life-cycle energy and pollution, then use the same criteria for each source.

    Also, there is simply more to a purchase decision than MPG, KwH/Mi, and logic.  If there wasn’t, we’d all be driving around in Toyota Yaris.

    There is no universal logic to justify the purchase of Volt or Prius vs. spending $75k BMW or certainly $300k for a Rolls Royce Phantom.   Buyers purchase cars for a lot of reasons.  Some may logically look at their commuting patterns and decide that they will use a Volt to its ultimate efficiency.  Others may simply like the looks, the quiet and smoothness of the electric propulsion, the image it portrays, etc. 

    Another thing, in California there are a lot of funds available for large employers to install electric chargers at their workplace.  If owners of Volts and other plug-in cars start to ask for them and do a little bit of legwork on their own, they can likely get the ability to charge at work.  If not, then charging at night at home is still an option. 

    Additionally, there are some chargers, like those from Coloumb, that work on a national network where one can buy a charge as needed… even at peak it’s less than gasoline per mile presumably.  These are starting to pop up as well.

    In my case, I have a 30-mile one way trip to work, mostly a straight shot on the freeway.    If 2/3 of my daily driving in a Volt could be done on the nightly charge, I’d probably be seeing an effective cost per mile equivalent to a car that gets 60-70 mpg (based on $3.10/gallon, 35 mpg in gasoline mode, of gas and about $1.25 for a full charge at night… which is admittedly a wild guess).  If I could charge at work at no cost, I’m looking at a daily cost equivalent to 150mpg. 

    If I used this same logic, if I only drove exactly 40 miles per day and the range on the batteries matched this, at $1.25 per charge for electricity I’m looking at a cost equivalent of about 99 mpg. 

    Is a Volt is ultimately less efficient than a pure electric like the Leaf or the EV1?  There is the extra weight of the generator to carry around, but I suppose that there is a subsequent weight savings since the battery pack can be smaller and the added convenience of the generator makes it more palatable to a lot of consumers.  If one charged a Leaf using a gasoline-powered generator, how would it compare?

  • avatar
    carguy

    I see that Volt hysteria is still in full swing here at TTAC and much has been said about a car that no one here has driven. So let’s summarize:
     
    1. Is the economic viability of the Volt questionable? Yes it is and so was the first gen Prius but it gave Toyota a great start down the road of being a hybrid technology leader and making plenty money from it.
     
    2. How dare the government use my tax dollars to “force” GM to develop this vehicle! Not really – compared to the B2 bomber, F22 raptor and massive tax breaks and subsidies for oil and agriculture and all the other garbage public money is wasted on, this is a relative bargain in comparison that will actually produce useful technology.
     
     

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    To go with miles per gallon for gasoline cars, I like miles per kilowatt hour for electric cars. Most electric cars will get between 3 and 5 miles per kilowatt hour. That figure’s easy to understand and compare. Some of the other metrics take more effort to grasp.
     
    Now that I think about it, I have never seen a miles per kilowatt hour figure for the Volt. I have for the Tesla Roadster.

  • avatar
    Blobinski

    Here is an approach whereby I feel most folks will look at it…..what is my Total Cost of Ownership for Car A at $22K with 27mpg versus Car B at $41K and 60mpg, irregardless of anything else.

    Using the edmunds calculator equally for both cars and my own commuting factors, it may be a much better deal to get a new car that is reasonable priced with a good 4 cylinder engine….e.g. Car A at ~$22,000 compared to Car B at $41K getting 60mpg combining cheap WA state KW rates and gas prices at $3.15 for both.  Car A could be a GM, Toyota, Nissan, or Hyundai, etc.

    Car A would cost me about $5,172 per year (gas and monthly payment) versus $9,624 for the Car B for a 5 year purchase plan.  I didn’t calculate the costs of installing any charging station, home electrical upgrades, the PITA charging would be, service costs, insurance, etc.

    Real world facts tell me that I wouldn’t do the Volt.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Cars are convenient and easy to use.  The Volt, LEAF and other plug cars require a change in behavior that may or may not happen when other choices are more convenient (i.e. Prius, Civic, Fiesta, Fit, etc.)
     
    Probably would have been better for GM to push Hydrogen or Diesel instead.  But then, that’s not very sexy when you’re begging for billions from people who more often than not, didn’t bother to cross shop your product due to poor resale value, poor reputation, poor reliability, etc. for decades.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    As to determining fuel (electric or gas) economy, seems like the easiest thing to do would be to run the car until the battery and gas are depleted in a mixed cycle environment, add up the cost of used electricity and gas and then arrive at an average mpg/mpkillowat number.  I’m guessing GM did this but wasn’t happy with the answer.  TTAC, how about running the test?

  • avatar
    rocketrodeo

    You can fault MT all you like for using standards that have been perfectly adequate up to now, including for hybrids (from which many of the “best and brightest” frequent posters profess to not be able to tell the difference re the Volt). The fact remains that we are on the brink of a paradigm shift. We don’t KNOW how nexus of efficiency and performance will be measured in the future. A consensus will eventually emerge, and if it happens with a minimum of bickering and name-calling there’s an excellent chance that it’s the industry and its observers who will get to write that mensuration standard, rather than the government.
     
    At least MT is responding to criticism, even though much of it, including that which emanated from here, had the distinct odor of ad hominem to it. I like Lieberman, I like his attitude, and I really like his writing, and I’m sure he’s the same guy he’s always been. But he’s working within a different editorial structure now, and it has a different set of checks and balances than the average blog–including this one. I don’t see that as a drawback. Evaluations of credibility, or lack thereof, seem fairly disingenuous coming from here, especially when Farago was perfectly willing call out journalists yet refused to apply similar standards to TTAC when the situation called for a mea culpa.  That, at least, appears to have improved here since he moved on, but the carping on the “old media” that continues is just poor form. It’s going to have the smell of sour grapes until we can read tests performed on the same basis as the buff books — and that’s not going to happen until you can develop and maintain good relations with with the folks who hand out the keys.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      Actually, yes we can fault them.  What they’re doing is analgous to testing a car that runs on E85 (85% ethanol, 15% gasonline), calculating efficiency in miles per gallon of gas burned (which would only be 15% of what you put into the tank) and publish an mpg figure that is inflated 600%.

      Also, HOWEVER we measure efficiency in the future, if the measure is completely dependent on the distance you drive, it isn’t a useful measure because lengths of trips can vary so much.

  • avatar
    MattPete

    I think you need a sliding scale showing the gallons used per mile (assuming a recharge between trips).
     
    So, assuming a 40 mile battery range and 30mpg when in gas-only mode, the Volt would look like this:
     
    [sorry about the formatting]

    Miles Elec.-Miles Gas-Miles gallons-used mpg
    10 10 0 0.0 NA
    20 20 0 0.0 NA
    40 40 0 0.0 NA
    80 40 40 1.3 60
    160 40 120 4.0 40
    320 40 280 9.3 34

  • avatar
    Engineer

    That’s an interesting piece of BS from MT. Odd that they didn’t claim you can get infinite mpg*
    *keep that battery charged up!

    The claim that electricity is cheaper than gas is demonstrably false. As it turns out, electricity is the most expensive enegy source, $/BTU basis.

    Of course, what people are really interested in, is what they would pay per mile. And, the Volt does use electricity more efficiently than the ICE uses gas. Fair enough. What’s the bottom line?

    Down here in SoCal, electricity is ~$0.20/kWh. The Volt has a 16 kWh battery, but only uses ~50% of the capacity, so its ~$1.60 per charge. If the EV only range is ~35 miles, that translates into $0.046/mile.

    That’s EV mode only. Once you get to CS mode, @35 mpg and the local gas price of ~$3.15/gal, you’re up to $0.090/mile. It’s clear that MT is right on that score: Volt owners would want to keep the battery charged, if money is any concern.

    Now, if you’re the green-hued type of individual who might be interested in the Volt (as opposed to the money-is-no-objection Wall Street banker type), you’d be curious how the Volt compares to other greenish offerings. That would be the Prius, which is reported to get 50 mpg (by Uncle Sam, so you know it’s a true number, ha ha; why no 2011 model?). At the stated gas price, that translates to $0.063/mile.

    Bottom line: for the Volt to even make sense in operating cost terms (say you got it as a gift from a rich uncle [Sam]), you’d need to do no more than ~40% of your driving in CS mode.

    Impressive? Your call…


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India