Sticker Wars: Leaf Beats Volt. FTC Trumps EPA
The official MPG(e) ratings for Chevy’s Volt and Nissan’ Leaf have been out for a few days. Finally, The Nikkei [sub] noticed something: Nissan’s “all-electric Leaf has gained bragging rights in the U.S. market after garnering a higher fuel economy rating than the Chevrolet Volt.” Bragging rights bestowed courtesy of the U.S. government.
After a lot of head scratching, and extensive testing, no doubt, the EPA determined that the Leaf has a fuel economy rating equivalent to 99 miles per gallon. They give the Volt only 93 miles per gallon – while it remains in its short-lived electric mode. Once the range extender kicks in, the Volt gets a combined rate of 60mpg. On gas only: 37mpg.
Nissan claims a 100-mile range. The EPA says that the Leaf is good for 73 miles on a full charge. Another government agency, the Federal Trade Commission, says the Leaf gets anywhere between 96 to 110 miles on a full charge, as the New York Times points out with glee. Are we confused yet? Wait for this:
There is a possibility that the Leaf will get two stickers. One by the EPA (73 miles), one by the FTC (96 – 110 miles). The 1985 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, requires the FTC to label all alternative-fuel vehicles, including the all-electric Leaf. And being sticklers for stickers …
The numbers on these stickers matter little because, from the government's CAFE perspective, the Leaf EV and the Volt plug-in are equal: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/cafe-for-free/ Next, let's be aware that the CAFE calculation of average fleet efficiency takes into account the number of vehicles produced of each model. Washington is certainly well-aware of this -- and as we know via Edward Niedermeyer, the feds have a documented inclination to buy fuel-efficient vehicles from Detroit: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/11/one-quarter-of-detroits-hybrids-bought-by-the-federal-government/ Naturally, Washington's friends share the same inclination, and General Electric will be buying a whole heap of Volts. Of course, General Electric expects a little something in return... http://www.downsizinggovernment.org/government-electric So, in short, GM has nothing to worry about from any aspect of existing ratings or legislation. The Volt will do just fine, for lots of reasons, even if you and I never buy one.
Title is misleading. The FTC isn't trumping the EPA. Both stickers might appear. To be sold in the US, I believe it must have an EPA sticker. It would be interesting to see what the FTC does or does not do with the Volt, but it really doesn't matter. Reading the NY Times article, it was interesting. "The Federal Trade Commission does not do its own tests; it relies on a standard set by the S.A.E., a technical group formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers. Automakers report their results to the commission. The commission is not terribly concerned over not being able to check for itself, according to the associate director for enforcement, James A. Kohm. Manufacturers like Nissan, for the Leaf, or General Motors, for the plug-in hybrid Volt, he said, “are big legitimate companies that are generally trying to do these right.” And besides, he added, “they have competitors looking over their shoulders.” It is interesting that the FTC doesn't really do anything here at all. I know the EPA doesn't test every car and when it doesn't goes off the results of the manufacture as well. But, I think that the FTC numbers are garbage. I am pretty sure on this very site numbers have been posted that make 100 miles in a Leaf a pipe dream, unless you are under 45 mph on a 72 degree day.
Well, the early adopters will do us all a service by wringing out the early "Leaves" while Nissan scrambles to improve the battery for cars to be sold later in the hotter and colder climes. Expect a "2.0" battery inside of 2 years.
Different cars, different markets. I'm a Leaf fan, not a Volt fan, but the comparison is meaningless. You'll never drive 200 miles on 1 Leaf charge. You'll never drive 80 miles on 1 Volt charge. The EPA did a good job with both stickers given the transitional period of car history we are in.