Chevy Volt Jolts Public Debate With 230MPG Claim

by , 08/12/09

sustainable design, green design, chevrolet volt, 230 mpg, fuel efficiency, hybrid electric vehicle, transportation

GM recently made waves for claiming that its new electric Volt gets 230 mpg, but the magic number seems more like 40. That’s because miles per gallon really only matter when a gas engine combusts. The Volt on the other hand will go around 40 miles on its electric battery before switching over to gas. If customers drive less than 40 miles per day, and if GM keeps the price under $40K (plus a $7,500 federal tax credit), many Americans could find themselves getting unlimited mpg for whatever it costs to plug in. So can GM really claim that the vehicle gets 230mpg? That’s where public debate heats up.

sustainable design, green design, chevrolet volt, 230 mpg, fuel efficiency, hybrid electric vehicle, transportationPhoto credit: AP Photo

Do professional test drivers accurately reflect real driving results? Will typical city drivers get “infinity” mpg if they don’t burn any gas? Are kilowatt-hours (kWh) a better standard than mpg for electric vehicles? And if an electric generating plant uses so many gallons to produce kilowatts for recharging batteries, doesn’t that just shift the overall carbon emissions to another sector (albeit one that is more energy efficient and easier to regulate)?

As a newer “series” hybrid, the Volt uses gasoline to power the motor when the battery runs low, rather than spin the wheels like a Prius and other “parallel” hybrids. This feature boosts both the energy efficiency and the potential range (up to 400 miles for the Volt) of the vehicle.

As we approach more “pure” electric vehicles using less and less gas, the battery itself takes center stage. The Volt’s battery pack uses lithium-ion technology to hold more energy per unit weight, as compared to current hybrid batteries using nickel-metal hydride. In an interview on, GM’s Director of EVs and Hybrids Bob Kruse likens the evolution of electric car batteries to that of cell phones, and acknowledges a dynamic balancing act between technology, cost and people’s “range anxiety” over how far they can go on a single charge.

Customers want cars that look nice, too, and the Volt’s design teams appear to keep this in mind. If GM can keep moving forward with an appealing look for an affordable price, the Chevy Volt may very well plug into America’s emerging mix of alternative energy and transportation.

+ Chevrolet Volt

Via Wired

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  1. JonGould September 3, 2011 at 10:26 pm

    Who Killed the Electric Car? No, This is not a question it is a movie documentary showing the true OIL colors of GM and Toyota in 1996 as OIL was shaking over the real possibility of the world leaving their bitterly soured Petroleum tit for more substantial and sustainable portable energy. There is enough solar energy available on the average home lot to completely meet all of home owners energy needs.

    Ever hear of the GM Saturn EV1 or the Toyota RAV-EV? Do yourself a favor and check out . It is the same players involved today playing the same filthy games. At least this time they are offering to sell a $40,280 MSRP hybrid without having to lease it where they can grab it back and destroy it. If you have $40+ grand to lay out on a car, you best look into what Ford has to offer in that price range.

    In 1980 I purchased a Ford Escort Diesel, (Mitsubishi engine), that got 70+MPG highway and 40-45MPG city. After finding it was paying for itself in fuel savings alone, I purchased another one. The 1981 and later models switched to a Mazda Diesel Engine that touted 60MPG highway. Where did they go? That’s right; GM released a slew of junk gas to diesel engine conversion cars that ruined the reputation of American made diesel cars. No one in their right mind wanted a diesel car; it also didn’t help when the feds raised the excise tax on diesel fuel .50 per gallon in order to make it the same price as gasoline.

    Electric portable power is the right way Americans should be moving, then power can then come from hydroelectric, solar, wind, nuclear, and coal all of which are cleaner, safer, and more efficient than crude oil. GM? That’s a big NO THANKYOU!.

  2. VIDEO: Inhabitat Test D... December 8, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    […] that consumers are finally ready for electric vehicles. Between the Nissan Leaf, Coda Sedan and Chevy Volt (all of which are supposed to be released this month), only the Volt has a hybrid gas-electric […]

  3. gouge411 August 20, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    So my question is, If the batteries are drained and you’re just using the gas motor to generate the electricity for the propulsion. What is the gas mileage??? Reason being, if it’s better the 40mpg WTF do you need batteries for??

  4. jessiejchuang August 13, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Why can’t people see the fact that hybrids are more of a danger to the environment by burning coal? The truth is, traditional cars are better than hybrids. Wake up guys.

  5. antkm1 August 13, 2009 at 9:47 am

    “GM’s then-Vice Chairman Robert Lutz told Newsweek in 2007 that a two-seat sports car by Tesla Motors, the Roadster, inspired him to push GM to develop the Volt.”

    So why i ask is it taking so long to put this car in production? That would make it 5 years from ’07, not to mention how much development GM did prior to ’07! Not only that but They had a working ALL ELECTRIC car prior to that (EV1) which was a perfectly good working vehicle. That seems ridiculous!

    Let’s look at the Tesla Roadster. By my research, The roadster was first developed circa 2003-2004 (when the prototype was developed). Their first production models were slated to be complete late 2007, but didn’t end up rolling of the factory floors until early 2008. So that’s roughly 5 years from conception to completion. They had no prior auto manufacturing experience and had a lot of help from Lotus and other sources, but 5 years from scratch is pretty impressive.

    Chevy, on the other hand, has just about 100 years of Automotive production experience, they have a literal army of developmental engineers in California, some of the most forward thinking engineers working on this technology since roughly 1989-1990 (the early stages of the EV1). So it’s taken GM almost 20 years to develop a production HYBRID car, not even an ALL ELECTRIC production model?

    This is all very disturbing information for anyone that loves american made product. I’m not going to make any accusations or place blame, but only ask WHY???

    I would love to see more companies as progressive and forward thinking as Tesla. Let’s not screw around wasting time and money and just make a darn good product that lives up to it’s hype. Go USA indeed, but not on the side of GM.

    The VOLT is not enough GM! It’s not even competitive with the Prius. Why not make a car that EVERYONE can afford. Granted Teslas isn’t doing that either, but I’m sure we’ll see something from them in the next 5 years. Better than you can say about Chevy.

    Let’s drop some of the duds and start developing fuel efficient/EV PHEV cars NOW, not 20 years from now. If i were Obama’s Car Czar, I would tell GM to follow the Japanese model, fewer models and only two product lines, standard (Honda) and Luxury (Acura). Why does GM have so many lines of cars? It’s a start to drop Pontiac, but to have Saturn, Buick, Cadillac, Hummer, GMC and Chevy? Let’s just make Chevy’s and Cadillacs and make every model in those likes competitive with the Japanese models and have them all Hybrids or Electrics or Hydrogens. No more playing around for decades!!! That’s a bit off topic, but on the same lines.

  6. alexjameslowe August 12, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    If even half of GM’s claims are true, then this car will be a significant step forward. As for the price, sure, 40K is a good chunk of change, but you can be sure it will come down, just like all technology prices do.

    Not to get political, but let’s get political: all those pundits who were gleefully predicting the death of GM and by extension, the Obama administration, can go suck on a rock. GO USA!!

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