By on October 10, 2010

Popular Mechanics has just published the results of the first extended test of the Volt, covering 900 miles. The results are spectacularly unimpressive: Three different drivers drove the Volt on three successive days, starting with a full charge. The EV ranges were 31, 35 and 33 miles, for an average of 33 miles. Normal driving styles were employed. That’s well below GM’s endlessly proclaimed 40+ mile range, but not exactly terrible. We’ll save that word for the fuel economy numbers:

PM was able to measure fuel economy in the CS (charge sustaining mode) after the battery was fully depleted. In the city, the average was 31.67 mpg. On the highway, 38.15 mpg. That averages to about 35 mpg! And on premium fuel, which GM deemed necessary to try to optimize the efficiency of the gas engine. Adjusting for the  higher cost of premium, that works out to an equivalent of 32 mpg on regular fuel. The Prius gets 50 mpg on regular, and many tests of the new Hyundai Sonata are coming in at 35 mpg on the highway. The new Cruze is to get 40 mpg. What happened to GM’s claims of 50 mpg for the Volt?

So what about the combined mileage, factoring in the EV range? PM’s number are 37.5 mpg city and 38.15 mpg highway.

Here’s PM’s bottom line:

As for the rather unremarkable fuel economy, it’s useful to remember that the Volt carries two powertrains—electric and gas—and thus suffers a weight penalty that effects overall efficiency. But of course, those two powertrains are why the Volt can be a primary vehicle that doesn’t ask the owner to compromise driving cycles like a pure EV. Consider the Volt a well-engineered first step on the path to electrified vehicles.

Shall we call that a baby step, and a mighty expensive one ($43k with charger) at that?

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89 Comments on “Ouch! First Extended Volt Test Yields 33 Mile EV Range and 32 MPG...”


  • avatar
    hines

    not a deathwatch, more like a “who didn’t see this coming watch?”.  the car will still sell.

    • 0 avatar

      I dunno… Gov’t Motors can only buy so many positive reviews. Looks like Motor Trend’s check cleared, but PM’s didn’t.

      The car buying public needs to hear “less efficient than a Prius” — staggeringly so — along with “almost twice as expensive as a Prius” as much as they can. Maybe then we’ll all remember why we nearly succeeded in sending GM to the glue factory in 2008.

    • 0 avatar
      thebeelzebubtrigger

      If the test results in question prove to be typical, the deal is “drive on electric power only as far as a gallon of gas can carry you — for a $20k or so premium” — why bother? The Volt will lose all “green cred” quickly if this is true, and we may see the return of the GM Deathwatch.

    • 0 avatar
      Bill Wade

      If the test results in question prove to be typical, the deal is “drive on electric power only as far as a gallon of gas can carry you — for a $20k or so premium” — why bother? The Volt will lose all “green cred” quickly if this is true, and we may see the return of the GM Deathwatch.

      Why would anybody have thought the Deathwatch is gone? Maybe delayed until the government goes bankrupt but it’s still there.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinx

      My 2010 Prius has been going about 56 mpg so far.  The best result I got was 58+.  So I am not impressed with a 32 or even 38 mpg number… but…
       
      … the Volt’s 33 mile EV range is actually VERY good.  The Prius barely manages 2 miles on EV at a time before running out of battery and switching to ICE.  In real life driving, the Volt’s 33 mile range would take me to work and back home (a 30 mile round trip) – so with a plug-in charger to top up the battery overnight, I could conceivably run for a long time before I needed to fill up.  I also have solar panels on the roof that supply excess power back to PGE, so I would be able to suck the juice back at night for free.
       
      Even though the Volt’s MPG numbers seem rather weak, this kind of EV range seems very attractive for a mostly suburban commuter.  I would not write the Volt off yet just because of these numbers.  (and I am not a GM fanboy, never owned a GM car and not planning to buy the volt myself)

  • avatar
    Rday

    What I want to know is what is the terrain that they were driving? Mountainous, hilly or flat? And was the heater or AC running at all and for how long?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Click the link for their full review. It was in Ann Arbor (no mountains there). Typical city and highway driving.

    • 0 avatar
      TimCrothers

      Paul you mean completely atypical right? Cruising at 78mph is not typical driving that’s throw the book at you speeding at least in the northeast.  A Prius would be lucky to get 38 mpg at those speeds and I know I’ve done it (Prius mileage falls off a cliff over 70+mph) .  As they say in their preview “It must have known of our usual lead-foot nature.”  So as worst case scenario the Volt beats the Prius which is good to know.

    • 0 avatar

      Tim,
      If PM was testing the car in the neighborhood of Ann Arbor, they have to drive that fast just to keep up with traffic. Most drivers on the interstates in Michigan do 75-80 mph all day long. Even in Ohio, where the state uses the OHP as revenue collectors, a recent run to Cinci and back showed a surprising number of folks doing 70 or so (the speed limit in Ohio is 65).

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Ronnie,
      78 mph isn’t even close to what the EPA uses to measure fuel economy.  It is really comparing apples and oranges.  It will be interesting to see the EPA numbers as well as other real world numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      L'avventura

      Tim, Michigan interstates have a speed limits of 70 mph, even parts of M14 near Ann Arbor is around 65 mph.  With most driving near 80 mph range on the freeway.
       
      That’s keeping up with traffic.  Real world mileage figures are important.
       
      I think most presumed range would be Prius-like in extended mode.  Being the Cruze gets 40 mpg highway that shouldn’t be too much to ask, but the Volt seems to be a far ways off from what initial expectations were.  Either way, the EPA will figure out a way of inflating those numbers.
       
      For what its worth, MT is claiming they achieved an average 126.7 mpg on the Volt (though they give no calculations or explanations).  They could have drove a quarter a gallon on extended mode and 30 miles on EV and extrapolated it…
      http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/alternative/1010_2011_chevrolet_volt_test/index.html

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    These tests are unsurprising.  It says that if you have a 15 mile commute (30 miles if your employer plays along and offers a plug) then this is probably an economical solution.  That would cover about two-thirds of the US.
    Depending on electricity prices at night, you are likely getting the equivalent of 150MPG.  Yes, if you take a lot of long weekend trips, it will go down, but still a huge advance.  Paul: why not get on board for the big win?

    • 0 avatar
      Paul Niedermeyer

      Because I’m shocked at how low the fuel economy is. I’ll take a Prius at half the price, or better yet a plug-in Prius (coming 2012), which will get 14 miles EV range, and cost $27k (or less). The plug-in Priuses are averaging 75-85 mpg.

    • 0 avatar
      tced2

      What happens to electricity prices when everyone plugs in at night?
      What happens to electricity prices when the coal operated plants are put of of business (Obama has said so)?
      Hint: much higher electricity prices.
       

    • 0 avatar
      TimCrothers

      The Prius (IV with Nav) costs $31,640 similarly equip to the Volt at $33,500, a whooping $1860 difference.  Well worth the price for being faster, more energy efficient and having a better tech package.  The plug in Prius gets 13 mile EV range IN THE BEST CASE scenario aka the same as getting 50 miles EV in Volt by hypermiling in L mode (aggressive regen braking setting).  And you can’t EV cruise on the highway in the Prius plug in because the engine HAS to run once speeds break 60mph.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      The Volt does not cost 33,500. it’s $40k plus. Yes, you’ll get $10k check, but that takes a while. So, in the meantime you’re out 40k or qualifying and making payments on a $40k car. And forget the Prius, get an Optima or Sonata Hybrid for less money. Another advantage of a hybrid is that you can take advantage of it’s economy even if you have to park someplace out of range from an outlet. Condo owners, apartment complex residents. and individuals restricted to on-street parking have no place to plug a Volt in.

    • 0 avatar
      TimCrothers

      If your leasing/financing the rebate takes place immediately so waiting for the rebate doesn’t apply.  You do know the Sonata hybrid only has a crappy 10.4 cubic feet trunk (over 6 cubic feet smaller then the regular car) and the seats can’t fold down because the battery is in the way.  Which is a joke compared to the Prius/Volt very practical hatches.  http://www.autoblog.com/2010/07/19/2011-hyundai-sonata-hybrid-first-drive-review-road-test/  Also, it doesn’t get anywhere near the Prius/Volt in mileage and is just as expensive. $28,000 for a regular NAV non-hybrid model +3-4K for the hybrid model is no difference in price.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Tim, I’d be careful bringing up practicality since the Volt doesn’t even carry 5 people.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper

      ” Condo owners, apartment complex residents. and individuals restricted to on-street parking have no place to plug a Volt in.”
      Exactly, so in the urban areas that a car like this could excel, Nobody there will have the eletric access they would need.      = Fail

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      So how does that tax credit work? If I have income low enough that I get most of my taxes back then I’m not likely to get much more money back after buying one of these tax credit cars – right? I mean it’s not like a tax rebate where they send me a check and I cash it – right?

  • avatar
    Jimal

    As a follow up to my comments in the last story about the Leaf, now that the Volt has been given a proper and “normal” car magazine test, as far as I’m concerned the it is no longer vaporware. They can focus group test the Leaf all they want, but until a similar test is complete it is still in my eyes vaporware.

  • avatar
    segfault

    I’m ready for a GM Second Bankruptcy Watch…

  • avatar
    daviel

    How is that economical?  How long will that kind of performance recoup the difference between a regular car for $18,000-22,000, getting 35-40 mpg, and the Volt’s $41,000 purchase price?

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      It depends on how you drive. if you take a lot of long trips, you might never recoup the difference, but if you drive exclusively around town and never use gas, the recoup time will be much shorter (but still way too long to make sense).

      If you drove a 24mpg city compact car exclusively in city driving 5 days a week, you would use 6.25 gallons per week @ $2.80 per gallon = $910 per year. If you drove the Volt the same way and used zero gas and saved the full $910 per year, it will take you 20 years to recoup the price difference ($35k for the Volt vs $17k for the regular compact).

    • 0 avatar
      segfault

      Amen.  If this is true, the Volt gets approximately the same highway mileage as my Altima.

    • 0 avatar
      nikita

      dwford,
      Electricity is not free. According to a post below, the batteries hold 16kwh. At Southern California Edison residential rates, with the special EV charge tariffs, which are very hard to decipher, it appears that a full charge costs average close to a gallon of gasoline or diesel, $1.28-5.12 depending on season, tier and time of day. So, 33 miles on a full charge or 33mpg with a conventional car costs about the same.

  • avatar
    charly

    You shouldn’t compare it with 20k cars but 40k cars and then a Volt is really cheap.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Here’s the problem with the Volt: The actual mileage a customer gets is going to depend solely on the type of driving the customer does. If the customer does 5 days of a 35 mile commute, then does 1 70 mile drive, didn’t the customer just average 245 miles per gallon (assuming 210 miles total on electric and 35 miles on charge sustain mode)? but if the same customer takes one 350 mile drive they will only average 38 mpg (35 miles on electric, then 315 miles @ 35mpg on charge sustain mode assuming a 9 gallon tank).
    How do you put an easy to understand MPG rating on THAT?!

    • 0 avatar

      They need two sets of numbers, one for electric-only range and a second for MPG after that. Perhaps even a third, for miles per KW on electricity.
      I first made this suggestion when the Volt was approved for production, a couple of years ago. Never expected the EPA would go this route. At least not at first. Eventually they’ll have to do something like it.

    • 0 avatar
      Engineer

      Mike,
      Given that EPA has been working on this since at least 2007, I’d expect that they’d at least have a fake answer by now. But I guess that’s no guarantee.

      Also, as I pointed out to EPA Senior Project Engineer Carl Paulina (EPA guy), repeatedly, the relevant metric is not miles/kW (like miles/hp), but miles/kWh (like miles/BTU or mpg, given that a gallon of gas is roughly the same BTUs).

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    The weight penalty is a red herring argument.  The Prius battery weighs 330 pounds, the Volt’s battery weighs 450 pounds.  Yes it is heavier, but 120 pounds isn’t a huge difference, even in this size class of vehicle.  It is also worth nothing that for a 120 pound gain, the Volt’s battery provides over 5X more capacity than the Prius’ battery.
     
    As far as the “on gasoline” MPG mileage, fail.  Epic fail.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    The Volt looks pretty lame to me. Here’s an idea: Buy a Leaf, and then spend the money that you saved on a decent used car for those long trips.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    So much for the 230 MPG that Fritz The Cat was talking about before he got his marching orders.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    I suspect that the Volt’s unimpressive extended trip fuel economy suffers due to the inefficiency of converting chemical energy into mechanical energy (the ICE), mechanical energy in electric energy (the generator) and then finally the electrical energy back into mechanical energy. Those extra conversions in the middle are probably the primary efficiency problem, not the weight of the battery pack. Part of the genius of other hybrid systems is their provision of a direct path from the mechanical output of the ICE to the driven wheels.

    BTW, I can hardly wait to see what Volt real world testing in mountainous areas shows!
     

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      John, it seems to have a bit of a problem mountainous areas. Apparently in some cases on a climb you’ll get a “Propulsion Power is Reduced” warning and your speed drops to 40 mph. There is a mountain mode that you can engage 10 or 15 minutes ahead of time. Unfortunately the climbs I encounter are only a couple of minutes apart. Anyway, seeing Volts poking along at Kei car speeds on the interstate in the climbing lane isn’t going to do much for it’s reputation.

    • 0 avatar
      mpresley

      But if you live in the desert, and only do short distance night driving (no A/C) when the moon is full (who needs headlights?) the Volt is like sure winner in the daily double.  Good going GM, and kudos to our see-all know-all government overlords.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      “Apparently in some cases on a climb you’ll get a “Propulsion Power is Reduced” warning and your speed drops to 40 mph.”
      Interesting. I said on TTAC long, long ago that this would be an inevitable consequence of having so few horses available once the batteries are depleted. As I recall, I conjured up images of vintage VW buses :).

  • avatar
    seabrjim

    We waited 3 years for this? How many cars can do this or better for alot less? Oh well, its only taxpayer motors. I hear the echo of a Vega separating at its bulkhead in the distance…

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    GM marketing motto: there’s a hybrid customer born every minute.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    John is right: the mileage has everything to do with energy loss due to state change (the gas engine drives an electric motor which in turn drives the wheels, whereas the Prius allows the engine to drive the wheels directly).  Weight doesn’t factor into it, as we know from cars like the Fusion or Camry which are heavier and get better city and highway mileage than their non-hybrid equivalents despite having more power.
     
    As for the range: yes, that’s disappointing.  Personally, it wouldn’t sway me from buying one because my regular commutes are within EV range, and my one or two commutes per month that aren’t a big deal (whereas they’d be a huge deal in the Leaf).
     
    I really don’t understand why the generator mode mileage is a big deal for TTAC.  Other than GM’s stupid “230mpg” claim, it’s just not a big deal for prospective buyers, any more than it’s 0-60 time or towing capacity is, and even GM hasn’t made any claims about it.  If the EV range is a problem then yes, it deserves criticism, but the generator-mode mileage just doesn’t matter.

    And on that note, I really don’t get the commentary about “is the car worth it?” or “there’s a zillion other cars that get better mileage”. We don’t try to economically justify the Miata’s handling (after all, it has hardly any cargo room and costs too much) or the 911′s power (after all, we can get all sorts of cars almost as fast for lot less). So the Volt isn’t a 1993 Toyota Camry. So what? Why is fuel economy the only attribute subject the economic justification?

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      “I really don’t understand why the generator mode mileage is a big deal”
       
      Because this was one of the few remaining chances for the Volt to over deliver for a change.  And once again, it didn’t.  Over hyped, over priced, over weight, and over due.
       
      “Why is fuel economy the only attribute subject the economic justification?”
       
      Because it’s the attribute that literally has economy in its name.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      I think you miss psar’s point.  The generator mode mileage isn’t what is going to be primarily used.  It is an option so that if you run out of battery, forget to charge it etc, that you won’t be stranded.  Primarily, people use it for EV.  It would be like comparing truck mileage when they are towing large RVs.  It won’t be used very often that way.  The Volt will probably use the generator more often than people tow RVs, but it shouldn’t be that much unless they take longer trips in the vehicle.

      On the second point, it is actually very valid.  Many people don’t buy strictly on fuel economy.  They want a car that looks good more than anything else, then they want it to drive nicely.  They have to be able to afford it and mileage probably falls after that.  But here it seems that fuel economy is the only thing that the Volt is judged on.  There are many other things to judge it on as well.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Very few people buy a car just for its commute attributes. If they did, the original EV1 would have been a sales success!

      To the point of why “extended mode” fuel economy matters: It goes to the heart of the technical question between series and parallel hybrid architectures. It seems clear that a Prius with a larger battery capacity and a plug in charging option will kick the Volt’s technical tush.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Steveo2 makes an interesting point.  Motor Trend has an extensive review on the Volt and found that it accelerates well, handles well, and has the best braking in class, not just in distance but in feel, despite having regenerative braking and low rolling resistance tires.  They say it is a very nice car (but close implying that it is over priced)
       
      http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/alternative/1010_2011_chevrolet_volt_test/index.html
       
      I still feel 32 MPG on gas is a fail and the 33 to 35 mile battery range is concerning.  GM’s own positioning was 40 miles on battery or bust.  They never wavered from that and so by their own bars.  40 miles of battery and 100 MPG aggregate electric/gas-electric mode GM has fallen far, far, short.  Given a loaded Cruze is $25K (and very nice) and pushes 40 MPG, and a loaded Ford Focus will be in the $25K range, even with government handouts (in defense of those handouts, Leaf and Tesla buyers get them to, it isn’t exclusive to GM) you’re going to have to drive A LOT of electric miles (which is counter intuitive if you think about it) to close the cost delta of its Cruze based cousin.
       
      But if we compare this to the Leaf, Nissan’s own testing has indicated the Leaf’s “real world” range is somewhere around 47 to 65 miles, far below their claimed 100 mile range; and there is no gas engine to bail out, it is another thing worth pointing out.
       
      Only the $109K Tesla Roadster, which only seats two (barely) delivers “as advertised” in this space, and not even 1,000 examples exist.

  • avatar

    Might as well get a pure EV, then. I’m glad you guys didn’t run my user submission if it comes to this.
    2012 can’t come soon enough, I want that Fiat 500 BEV.

  • avatar

    For the price they’re wanting? No way!

    Last fall I bought a ’96 Regal GS for $500. At 70mph, cruise on, full tank of Sunoco94, I get 39MPG (Imperial gallon) Every Day. With A/C and a 200lb passenger it drops to 37MPG.

    For $500!! GM is going backwards!

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      Good for you.  But if nobody bought that new back then, there’d be no $500 version of it now for sale.  I’m sure they was somebody back then wishing it had a steel dash, carbs, and no airbags and drank leaded gas…  Time marches on.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Why do so many posters on this site buy out-of-date used cars and then rave about them? To me, that means many of the posters on this site are pretty young and can’t afford anything better (which is just fine), or survivalists that believe they’re making some sort of point and are willing to suffer/beat themselves up for the sake of making a stand and tear everyone else down. I don’t believe in becoming a lemming for any industry, but at some point, one needs a decent, reliable vehicle every day that doesn’t require copius amounts of maintenance. I know, many do enjoy this sort of thing, but I’ve reached a point that I don’t want to mess with much of anything anymore, so I’ll spend my money up front on a new- or near new car and not have to worry about spending my time at the shop getting it fixed, since there’s little I’m able to fix myself anymore (and don’t want to). Of course, this is merely my opinion, for I used to enjoy working on cars when I was younger, too!

    • 0 avatar
      Patrickj

      @lectrobyte
      wishing it had a steel dash, carbs, and no airbags and drank leaded gas…
      ————————————————————–
      That would cover about half the posters on U.S./Canada-based automotive websites.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      @Zackman – EXACTLY!
       
      My very first car was a 1985 Ford EXP (no I’m not ashamed).  It had a 5-speed manual, manual steering, it didn’t even have AC.  I got mid to high 20′s in the city and I got 45 to 48 MPG on the highway and I drove that car like a dumb 17 year old (as much as you can push a car like an EXP).
       
      I would never be so silly to compare the mileage and price point of my $5,400 1985 Ford EXP in unadjusted dollars.  By today’s standards from the disc/drum brakes, to the 185/80R13 tires, to the lack of things like tinted glass (no, not deep tinted glass no UV protection at all) or a floorboard so thin that the hatch area over the muffler got incredibly hot – by modern standards that car, along with every other car from the era, especially small efficient cars, are death traps.  It is a silly comparison point.
       
      Ya, give my a carburetor and having to literally say a prayer on -15 F. mornings that the engine would actually turn over, frightening amounts of understeer, under braked, under tired, under powered, Spam in a can car.  I miss those good old days.  Not.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Amen to that! Would I like that old 1964 Chevy back? You bet I would, but only as a toy, nothing more. I enjoy cars that work each and every time, too!

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    How does it drive after you exceed battery range and just have the puny gas engine for power?

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    If you don’t want a Volt, don’t buy one.  The first generation Prius wasn’t that impressive, either.  A Volt would probably fit my needs pretty well, because I only live 5 miles from work.  I could drive the Volt on pure electric mode two or three days between charges.  The problem is, because I don’t drive very far, my gasoline bill isn’t that large, anyway.  Depreciation per mile is higher than my gas cost on my $25,000 minivan, at least it was for the first three years.  Since I don’t drive a lot of miles, it makes a lot of sense for me to keep my car rather than trading for a newer one even if it is more efficient.
    If electric cars catch on, I can imagine a manufacturer offering a deal for a timeshared larger vehicle for long trips.  In other words, buy a Prius plug-in, get a 1/10 interest in a Sienna minivan for free.

    • 0 avatar
      caboaz

      Gosh, Con, I would have loved the opportunity to NOT buy a Volt but somebody reached into my pocket anyway and I now own a small fraction of every unsold Volt made until a sucker can be found to shell out $43k for one.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      5 miles from work?  I’d be walking or bicycling.  Alas, the jobs here seem to be where nobody but nobody in their right mind would want to live.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      If you don’t want a Volt, don’t buy one.
      Unfortunately I’m a US taxpayer and I’m afraid I don’t have a choice. I’m helping to pay for every one of them.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      Don’t forget that that $10k tax credit isn’t made out of pixie dust.  We had to fund the R&D, keep the company afloat, and subsidize every sale.  No choice but for every taxpayer to “own” a piece of every Volt.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      @carve
       
      The “subsidy” is $7.5K and other EV makers like Tesla and Leaf get them.  Or should GM not get them and should we give our tax dollars to the Japanese (Leaf) and a questionable start up (Tesla)???
       
      Love it when people call out the “government handout” when other makers get them, and Prius sales were superfueled on “government handouts” not just here in the states but in their home market of Japan.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Please keep in mind that we also own a piece of every B2 stealth bomber, F-22 Raptor and every other ridiculously unaffordable weapon, nuclear or not, practical or not, and are financing unwinnable wars that cost real lives, justifyable or not, against so-called enemies using sometimes WWII weaponry too. The Chevy Volt may or may not work, but I give them credit for trying to survive and innovate, whether I buy one or not. My next car purchase may be other than domestic, but I hope not. Bashing a car company unneccessarily is counter-productive, but constructive criticism (meaning offering solutions) is. Would I buy a Volt? I don’t know, but “perpetual motion machines” don’t exist and may never, but at least this is something along with the hybrids, the fuel cells, the electric-only, the ICE systems currently in existence. I’m off my soapbox, now. Next?

    • 0 avatar

      …but I give them credit for trying to survive and innovate…

      Trying to survive isn’t a noble purpose. It’s fundamental to existence. We don’t give each other credit for breathing.

      As for innovation, with each passing moment over the past 36 hours it becomes clearer still the Volt has ZERO practical innovation over hybrid automobiles in existence for 10 years now.

      Yeah, great, you can plug it in at home. BFD. In every other measurable and relevant comparison, the Volt doesn’t do what a Prius can, for at least $10,000 more than the Prius.

      For this, we were forced to save GM. I pray the opportunity comes so we are able to NOT make the same mistake twice.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      Why do you presume I’m only against GM getting the handout?  The point I’m making is that every taxpayer chips in for the Volt.  You said we didn’t have to buy one if we didn’t want to.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      Every taxpayer “chipped in” for many thousands of Prius, Camry, Altima, Fusion (etc.) hybrids – all built overseas (or in Mexico).
      Give the Volt a break – it’s an accomplishment for American industry, and we’ve had so few of late. I hope it does well in its niche.

    • 0 avatar

      Every taxpayer “chipped in” for many thousands of Prius, Camry, Altima, Fusion (etc.) hybrids – all built overseas (or in Mexico).

      You wanna know why I don’t mind that? Because each one of the cars you cite works as advertised. The Volt doesn’t.

      I could give a sh!t where it’s built if it doesn’t work.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      That’s a matter of opinion — there are many comments on this blog that the Volt would suit their driving needs – purely from the transportation standpoint.
      There are also many that look at the Volt as some sort of “bastard child” of a flawed government/industry “marriage”, to which the Volt could never stand on its actual usefulness. Oh, well.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    I’m still interested in a Volt, the EV range would cover most of my 22-mile or so (one-way) commute, and allow for trips to grandma’s house (50 miles away) and back here in East by-God TN .
    My prediction:  If they keep the high-tech redneck crowd like me (I got an ’04 Prius in the driveway now that needs trading in afore too long), they’ll do OK.

  • avatar
    niky

    The problem with the Volt and economy is that this is literally what they’re selling the car on.
     
    Personally, I see no problem with a 33 mile range on electric and 38 highway mpg on charge sustaining mode… as I doubt people will commute more than 100 miles a day in typical use (and if you’re commuting more, you’re not a typical urban user), and at 100 miles a day, you’ll still be getting around 57 mpg. At a more typical 50 miles a day, you’ll be getting over 100 mpg.
     
     
    I’m impressed that the highway economy is decent, but the urban economy is really disappointing, since regular hybrids can do better.
     
    At 40k up-front, you expect more. A plug-in Prius should get you well over 57 mpg on that 100 mile commute, and should approach that 100 mpg figure in shorter commutes. Heck, I can already get around 40 mpg (US) on the highway in my diesel, at speeds of 70 mph.
     

  • avatar
    ithiel

    I wonder what the climate effects will have on the EV range of the Volt.  Besides the hit EV mode will take when running the heater (or A/C), hasn’t there been negative press on hybrids not doing so well in winter?  If that is true, could the magical 40mpg EV only drop to something like 10-20?  Like others have said, 30+ EV only would be fine for most people’s commute, but if your car’s range dropped substantially with the weather I imagine buyers wouldn’t be too happy.  Above all, I feel that most average car buyers don’t want to be hassled with the intricacies of mileage, etc. when the weather changes.  People expect to drive to work in the winter with the heater on and not take a substantial mileage hit.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Here’s the 5X distillation,
     
    GM has (as usual) produced a car that is at least 5 years behind the market leader.
     
    Sure it will sell a few units to the r-tards who are the GM faithful, but in the picture that matters, so what?
     

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      +1 Absolutely agree! Nothing like living in a country that used to lead the world, now playing catch-up in everything, except designing un-affordable weapons that have no practical use, for non-existent threats!

      I do give GM credit for trying something different, which is admirable, especially if it works anywhere near what was hyped-up. I feel that the industry is on or near the verge of making a major leap forward on hyper-efficient personal transportation that is practical in this country for any use, for driving/commuting conditions are much different here than anywhere else in the world. I look forward to next year’s auto shows to examine the latest offerings as to how far we’ve come. It appears that some of the most efficient autos are of the 5-door wagon variety (for lack of a better term), such as the Juke, Fit, Mazda3, for example.

  • avatar
    martin schwoerer

    Here’s what GM needs to do.
     
    Offer a free iPhone and Google app which, using your smart phone’s GPS, analyses your daily driving habits for a week or a month.
     
    Using that app, people will be able to tell how much they can really save by using an electric-first car.
     
    The gasoline-mode MPG is more or less irrelevant for people who commute in electric mode 98% of the time.
     
    On the other hand, the Volt is irrelevant for a travelling salesmen.
     
    It’s all in the cost-per-mile! But to calculate their CPM, people need help in analysing their requirements.
     
    The range-anxiety argument has some weight. People are commuters but picture themselves as adventurers. I reckon the Volt’s configuration as such is sensible for millions of people. (Having said that, I doubt that GM is a sufficiently conscientious company to tackle the highly-important question of long-term battery management, so I doubt the Volt will be really recommendable).

  • avatar
    Ronman

    The Volt’s efficiency numbers and the stories that talk about it are making my mind numb…
     
    enough with the MPG crap… how much does it do on battery alone? 33mpg on average? great that is a guaranteed 30 miles, 50km without gas. which i think is ok and i’m sure GM will make it better with time… it’s their first stab. the Volt should be viewed as a step toward sustainable EV not  tool to bash GM with… they over promised?…weehee they are not the first…
     
    what would worry me is the total MPG figure? how much would the Volt average on a full tank of gas? did the guy a PM take it for  a west to east coast drive and keep driving normally until the thing dies on them? how much is the fuel burn rate then? that is what i like to know…
     
     

  • avatar
    Robstar

    When an electric car that can do 70 miles (my rt commute) at 70-80mph at -10f with the heater blowing @ $25k well equipped, call me.
    Anyone think I’ll get a call before I (hopefully) retire in 30  years?

  • avatar
    peachtartsandtea

    Lifelong GM owner here.
    Supported the auto bailout, have always supported trade protections for our auto industry. Grudgingly supported the UAW over the years.
    Two words to describe these test results: UTTER DISGRACE
    Here’s 2 more: FINANCIAL BOONDOGGLE

  • avatar
    spyspeed

    Bring back the EV1. At least it looked the part.

  • avatar
    carve

    So….uuhhhh….not 237 mpg then?  Shocking.

    EV range is about what I expected.  MPG…I expected it to be closer to Prius levels.  However, I always remained skeptical that having a seperate generator, rather than a direct-drive transmission, was a good idea.  It’s inefficient and expensive.  Regarding 78 mph being too fast…why don’t we see if P.M. tested a Prius, and see how it fared with the same group of drivers?
    Tced2: you asked what happens to power prices when everyone plugs in at night.  For many years to come: nothing.  Most coal and nuke power plants take DAYS to throttle down, and they run inefficiently once throttled.  They tend to run flat-out 24/7, so there’s more power than we know what to do with at night.f
    I’ve said it here many times: For a powertrain architecture like the Volt’s to be economical, the engine and generator have to be MUCH smaller (~1/2 the size), and kick on sooner.  It could have algorighms that know if you’re starting it at 7:30 on a weekday, there’s a 97% probability you’re driving to work, and it can kick the engine on or off as needed to get the most efficiency.  GPS could predict when you’re approaching a big hill on the freeway, and top up the battery in advance.  You could also have a hot-list in the nav and tell it ~how many miles you’re going, or maybe some common destinations and it’ll control the generator for best efficiency.
    This smaller engine/generator would be cheaper and more efficient.  It’d also be lighter, so the motor and battery could be reduced, you could have lighter chassis…suspension, etc.  You get a nice ripple-effect, improving the whole car.  To top it off, if it’s intelligent enough you’d never have reduced power in range-extended mode.
    If they want to keep their big engine, gear it straight to the wheels with a CVT with tall gearing.  Battery could be top-upped while moving in a through-the-road hybrid method.   It could be geared very tall, with the electric motor helping to get you moving.
    I also agree that the window sticker needs the following info…
    city/hwy EV range
    city/hwy kwh per 100 miles
    city/hwy mpg in range extended mode

  • avatar
    hreardon

    The problem for GM and the Volt will be that they have wildly oversold and will be under-delivering once the product gets wide reviews and press.

    The way this car has been positioned, rightly or wrongly, is as GM’s savior and as GM’s miracle car that will revolutionize transportation in America.  Instead what we’re getting is something akin to the Segway: unique, a definite technical marvel, but of limited capacity and marketability.

    Since the Volt is supposed to be all about the electrification of the automobile and subsequent improvement in overall fuel economy, that is how it is going to be viewed by the public at the end of the day.  Core environmentalists and technologists will buy the car for its technology – the rest of the market will buy the car based on its fundamentals.  We’ve seen this in many other industries, say in desktop computers and mobile phones.  Example: Smartphones sold decently well for years, but mainly to techies.  Apple succeeded in making smartphones mass-market because they hid the underlying technology and presented to users those features they really wanted to use in a great form+function+price point.

    The initial run of Volts will sell, but the question is how it will do with everyone else. Personally, I could care less if the damned thing ran on cat urine – that’s not what interests me nor what will get me to pony up the Benjamins to acquire one.  Based on what I’ve read here, if I wanted a car with good fuel economy I would still be looking at any number of other cars which meet or exceed Volt’s numbers: Prius, Sonata, Golf, Versa, Civic, Focus, Elantra, etc.

    Remember – at the end of the day it’s not the underlying technology that most people are buying, it’s the utility and price they are buying.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    You can’t beat physics.  These MPG reports are right where most sane people expected them to be over 2 years ago.
     
    Who killed the Volt EV?  GM did.

  • avatar
    MikeAR

    You know, when this thing comes out if there are any around me kept outside at night charging, I think I’ll sneak around and unplug them. Ought to be pretty funny to watch when the owners comeout in the morning and try to go to work.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian


    Very few people buy a car just for its commute attributes. If they did, the original EV1 would have been a sales success!
     
    There’s a difference: the EV1 couldn’t be relied on to not strand you, much as the Leaf will and the Prius or Volt will not.  That’s why, as a  commuter for the mass-market, the Volt works.
     
    To the point of why “extended mode” fuel economy matters: It goes to the heart of the technical question between series and parallel hybrid architectures. It seems clear that a Prius with a larger battery capacity and a plug in charging option will kick the Volt’s technical tush.
     
    Of that I have no doubt, but it doesn’t invalidate the Volt concept.  It’s also largely irrelevant to either vehicle as engine-only range just isn’t that important, and it’s not likely to be the deal-maker that EV range will be.  Again, it’s like the people who criticize how hard it is to parallel park a F-350, or how bad it’s ride is: it’s true, but largely immaterial to the buyer.
     
    The difference, though, is that people seem to feel that hybrids and EVs are the only vehicles that deserve this scorn: mention to truck or sports-car drivers how their vehicle sucks at non-core competencies and they get very, very uppity about “their right to drive what they want”.
     
    The Volt is a good hybrid/PHEV/EREV/whatever-EV.  It’s the best option for heavy commuting.  I’m sure a LiIon** PHEV Prius could do better, but it doesn’t exist yet, so right now this vehicle is in a class by itself and stands to do reasonably well.
     
    ** I’m pretty sure it’s the LiIon battery that allows it to pull the EV range it does, and not the series drive.  My concern for the Volt is that LiIon isn’t as robust as NiMH.  Battery degradation could be a real problem for it and the Leaf.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    With the choice between the Volt, LEAF and Prius soon, I don’t understand why people other than GM fans would buy this.  There is no clear MPG figure available, probably by design, as it’s becoming more clear that it’s not anywhere near as efficient as we all were led to believe.  If you want a city car, but the LEAF.  If you want the best mileage, buy a Prius.  If you want to support a company on taxpayer supplied life support, buy (or lease) the Volt.  It gets good mileage, as do cars costing significantly less than the Volt’s asking price, including the 25/36 Honda Civic or the 22/35 Hyundai Sonata stickering at 1/2 the price of the Volt.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Said it before and will say it again:
     
    Once there are a bunch of these electric carts plying the highways, some bureaucrat will snap out of his boredom-induced haze and realize that the state hasn’t applied “road” or “highway” taxes on the electricity bill. Instant need for revenue, and entirely justifiable as well, because these vehicles will be using the roads just like a regular car, and paying NOTHING for the privilege. Because if they don’t tax the transportation electricity, I for one will scream bloody blue murder at my representatives. Why should I overpay fuel taxes so that some other damn fool can get a free ride?
     
    And to cap it all off, government is giving $7500 as a credit for someone to buy one of these contraptions. That also comes out of my hide, and I’m unhappy about it.
     
    This is the reality of unfairness and societal meddling. Since the purchase of a vehicle is an entirely individual thing, I’m against any and all governmental “assistance” on my dime. You want the latest shiny new toy? Pay for it yourself.


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