New Volt should get 230 mpg in city, GM says
The mileage for the electric-gas hybrid, due next year, would be the
best by far of any car rated by the EPA.
By Martin Zimmerman
1:21 PM PDT, August 11, 2009
General Motors Co. said today that its long-awaited Chevrolet Volt
plug-in hybrid is expected to achieve fuel economy of 230 miles per
gallon in city driving.
That would give the Volt, which is expected to arrive in showrooms
late next year, by far the highest fuel efficiency rating of any car
now rated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The current EPA
mileage leader is the Toyota Prius hybrid, which is rated at 50 mpg in
combined city-highway driving.
The Volt is designed to run on electric power only for about 40 miles,
after which a small gasoline engine kicks in to re-charge the battery,
giving it a total range of more than 300 miles. The battery can be
recharged by plugging in to a home outlet.
GM's estimated mileage rating for the Volt is based on city driving.
Highway mileage likely would be lower because it would require more
work from the gasoline engine.
"From the data we've seen, many Chevy Volt drivers may be able to be
in pure electric mode on a daily basis without having to use any gas,"
said GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson. "EPA labels are a yardstick
for customers to compare the fuel efficiency of vehicles. So, a
vehicle like the Volt that achieves a composite triple-digit fuel
economy is a game-changer."
The automaker's fuel economy estimates still have to be confirmed by
the EPA, which is developing a new methodology for calculating fuel
economy ratings for cars that can travel significant distances powered
only by electricity. GM said it used the EPA's preliminary guidelines
in developing its mileage estimates for the Volt.
The EPA publishes mileage estimates for vehicles sold in the U.S.
based on city and highway driving, as well as a combined city-highway
The Volt's best fuel economy will be achieved in city driving, where
it can take full advantage of its all-electric capability. GM said it
has calculated a highway mileage estimate for the Volt, but didn't
release the figure. The automaker said it was confident the car's
combined city-highway fuel economy "will be in the triple digits."
Electric-vehicle proponents, although encouraged by the Volt's
preliminary numbers, cautioned GM not to overstate the car's
"The phrase 'Your mileage may vary' is particularly true with plug-in
hybrids because how you drive will have a significant impact on how
much gasoline the vehicle consumes," said Jim Kliesch, a senior
engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists.
"It would be a real shame if such a promising technology got a bad rap
because they raised expectations too high."
The company said today it has produced about 30 Volts and is making 10
a week at its pre-production facility in Warren, Mich. GM is expected
to announce later this week that the Volt's nearly 400-pound lithium-
ion battery will be assembled at a plant in the Detroit area. The
production version car will be built at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck
As the pre-production vehicles are road-tested, estimates of the cars'
all-electric range and their eventual fuel economy rating could
change. Volts currently are being road-tested in Yuma, Ariz., to gauge
their performance in hot weather conditions.
GM has staked much of its technological reputation on the Volt, and
has touted the vehicle relentlessly for more than two years. Some
critics have derided the vehicle as an expensive piece of "vaporware"
that would never achieve significant sales, but the automaker has
consistently maintained that it is committed to the Volt.
"Right now, there are no foreseeable roadblocks to the program and the
program's timing," GM spokesman Rob Peterson said.
Although GM has not released pricing information on the Volt, industry
analysts estimate it will cost about $0,000, though the automaker
says the car's list price would likely be lowered by federal tax
credits and other incentives. Peterson said Volt owners would be
eligible for the $,500 federal tax credit provided on electric
Several other automakers, including Chrysler, Nissan, Ford and Toyota,
are working on variations of plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles
that are expected to reach the market over the next few years.