GM Volt Versus Toyota Prius: Which Design Type Will Be More Effective At Reducing Stack & Tailpipe Emissions, And Energy Consumption?


220 Volt Heavy Duty Receptacle. Image credit:Angiogram

This is one of those comparison posts that that could draw many angry comments: like Could Hype Sell An Inferior Hybrid? - Ford Fusion versus Toyota Camry did. Please carefully read the caveats.

Investigators from Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburg PA, have made a Volt-type v.s. Prius-type design comparison which flags a big differentiator when emissions and efficiency are normallized: battery price, or, more properly, battery cost-effectiveness. Detailed findings will be published in a peer reviewed journal next month.Bottom line: using current estimates of battery cost, a vehicle designed to handle the typical daily commute distance - 40 miles on a charge - on primarily the electric motor will likely be too expensive for owners to realize an acceptable payback period, while society (and the owner, indirectly) benefits from the combination of fuel savings and emission reductions.* Underscore: this is not a one-off comparison of fuel-equivalent savings versus cost to buy the vehicle. Emission reductions for C02 is are included in the cost effectiveness assessment.

Because we do not yet have access to the full report, we can not state whether emissions of NOX, SOX, or particulates were analyzed.

Bloomberg reported on the study, which we found via: InsideBayArea.com.

A rechargeable auto with the Volt's target range of 40 miles on electricity is "not cost-effective in any scenario," a study by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found. Plug-in cars with smaller batteries may be a better value, according to the study, which doesn't cite the Volt by name.

"Forty miles might be a sweet spot for making sure a lot of people get to work without using gasoline, but you're doing it at a cost that will never be repaid in fuel savings," Jeremy Michalek, an engineering professor who led the study, said in an interview.

Carnegie Mellon University, Design Decisions Lab, has a press release about the yet-to-be-published peer reviewed study: More is Not Always Better for Plug-in Vehicle Batteries
*Caveat: GM could have a battery cost trick or two up their sleeves yet; so don't 'drive to any conclusions,' just yet. They could, for example, use a staged energy storage system that sychronizes power draw from capacitor- to battery-bank and back, as demand and reserves dictate.

Additional posts referencing the work of Carnegie Mellon investigators.
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Solar Versus Wind Power: Which Has The Most Stable Power Output ...
Demanding Broader Carbon Footprint Calculations
Solar Decathlon: Pittsburgh's Synergy House
Truth & Consequences: When Carbon Emission Has A Cost
Real Treehuggers Support Adding LNG Terminals
What Would a Carbon Tax Look Like?

Tags: Japan | Michigan | Toyota