Quote Of The Day: The Obsolescence Of Volt Edition
Fortune [ via CNN]’s Alex Taylor III is clearly as disappointed as I was with Joe Nocera’s toothless, vaguely pro-Volt piece in last Sunday’s NY Times, and he’s riled up enough about it to lay down a savage call-out the Volt hype machine. In fact, it’s a less scientific, less comprehensive (and, by virtue of the passage of time, less speculative) version of a piece my father wrote in 2008, comparing the then-undelivered Volt with the also unlaunched 3rd gen Prius and Plug-In Prius. Taylor’s foil for the Volt is the plug-in Prius, which now arrives in less than a year, and in the eyes of the longtime industry writer, the contrast is stark:
Volt enthusiasts like to recite the fact that the Volt can go 35 miles on battery-power and then shift seamlessly into gasoline-engine mode, saving on gas and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. It is an impressive technological improvement but one that is already obsolete.
The Prius Plug-in can go about 13 miles on battery-power alone. But when the battery-only power expires, it switches over to Toyota’s proven hybrid system. That system delivers 51 miles per gallon in the city and 48 mpg on the highway in the standard Prius.
The Volt can go about 35 miles in EV mode, but after that it switches over to pure gasoline power – no more battery assist. With only its gas engine running, Popular Mechanics magazine discovered the Volt gets just 32 mpg in the city and 36 mpg highway.
So on trips of 13 miles or less, the Prius plug-in and Volt deliver the same all-electric mpg: zero. On trips between 13 miles and 35 miles in length, the Volt beats the Prius. But after 35 miles, the Prius handily outscores the Volt.
Yup, that about sums it up. And rather than just letting the cold truth work its magic, Taylor can’t resist twisting the knife.
To date, the Prius Plug-in has been ignored by EV enthusiasts who are being revved up by the flood of favorable publicity coming out of Detroit, which for all its pretensions to global sophistication, remains a house of mirrors whose view of the outside world stops at Eight Mile Road.
Whenever somebody congratulates Volt for winning multiple car of the year awards, they should remind themselves that those same award-giving bodies passed over the original Prius hybrid in 2001 in favor of the PT Cruiser. Toyota has gone on to sell two million Priuses, the most revolutionary car of the last 75 years; the Cruiser, a novelty car with no technological pretensions, has since gone out of production.
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