Volt Birth Watch 185: EPA Still Not Buying 230 MPG Number

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Production of Chevy Volt “integration models” began last week, as Hamtramck tools up for final production of GM’s wundercar, but GM still isn’t saying anything about the car’s two most important features: the pricetag and EPA rating. The General has hemmed and hawed on the Volt’s price over the last several years of hype, but it hasn’t ever been shy about touting an “expected” 230 MPG rating. Because apparently it’s the EPA’s job to clear up GM’s misleading marketing claims. So what is the deal with that 230 MPG number, anyway?

Inside Line reports the latest on “negotiations” between GM and the EPA over the Volt’s testing paradigm and eventual MPG number.

“The 230 mpg number talked about a few months ago was based on some preliminary discussion with the EPA,” said Andrew Farah, the vehicle chief engineer on the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera, when asked if the number is still relevant. “Those conversations have been continuing and have not yet come to a conclusion.”

After the media conference call, Inside Line asked Rob Peterson, GM’s Volt spokesman, if the Volt’s fuel economy is still up in the air.

“I couldn’t have said it any better,” he replied.

“The discussion continues to go on between the EPA and GM,” Peterson said. “[We’re] working together to come up with a number that works best for the consumer.”

Now, try to imagine the case for the 230 MPG number being a good thing for consumers. Sure, miles-per-gallon is the standard measure, but the idea that consumers will ever be able to drive 230 miles on one gallon of gasoline is simply laughable. But the Volt project has always started with a big eco-marketing number (it started with “40 miles without burning a single drop of gasoline”) with the car being built to suit. So, will the EPA stick to its guns? One thing is for certain: if the Volt goes on sale with a 230 MPG window sticker, the Government Motors conspiracy theorists are going to have a freaking field day. Especially considering that the Volt’s rating appears to come down to “negotiations” between GM and the EPA.

UPDATE: The Detroit News paraphrases Chief Engineer Andrew Farah as saying that “road testing shows the Volt is meeting its targets, including achieving a 40-mile range on batteries alone and the goal of 50 miles per gallon when the range-extending gasoline engine kicks in.”

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

More by Edward Niedermeyer

Join the conversation
3 of 45 comments
  • Autojunkie Autojunkie on Apr 14, 2010

    It's a simple "slap in the face" to the EPA's standardized test. Every vehicle is to follow this standardized test, given by the EPA, and the final mpg number is calculated. Over the years, the EPA standardized test for mpg has been criticized by the industry for not being applicable to real-world driving. By following the standardized test, with the Volt, and legitimately reporting the number (230 mpg), it forces the EPA to finally reconsider its standardized test. Since the Volt is so new in concept, and with the Leaf (among other electrics) coming to market, the EPA has to reevaluate its testing procedure for mpg and realize that there really is no such thing as a "standardized test" for all vehicles.

  • Stephen Luce Stephen Luce on Apr 19, 2010

    To all those that think 230 mpg is too high: If I drive a Volt 30 miles a day for a year and never refill it, what is my mpg? The problem is not the number. It's the EPA thinking it needs a single number.

    • Lw Lw on Apr 19, 2010

      A single number is good, if it's the right number. Problem is that the EPA is the wrong part of government. Protect the environment by buying a car full of batteries that moves the pollution from 10 feet behind me to a power plant 10 miles away? Please... I want a single #. "Total Cost per mile" Include depreciation, unplanned maintenance based on history of the vehicle, insurance costs, gas, routine maintenance based on the owners manual, tires, brakes, etc. Anyone of us could build the spreadsheet in an hour and would just need some raw data from Consumer Reports run the model.

  • Redapple2 34 yr in Michigan salt?
  • Mike-NB2 Zero. Not interested at all. I often don't have my phone with me, and if I do, I completely ignore it. Unless it were to catch fire, of course. But I'm old, so that has to be taken into account too.
  • Urlik It’s only important to me for navigation. OEM’s do Nav all wrong and charge for the privilege. While once they charged big money for map updates, they charge subscriptions for the privilege of a worse Nav than you have on your phone.The other stuff mirroring brings is mere gravy.
  • Rna65689660 Zero interest
  • Redapple2 1- bad quality reputation and dealer horror stories make a VW purchase not happening.2- 1.5 turbo in my driveway is something I d be leery of every hour of ownership.