Update: 230 MPG? Stop the Madness! Here's How the EPA Should Rate Range-Extended Electric Cars
Based on Draft Fuel Economy Methodology Developed by the EPA for Plug-in Hybrids
General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson announced this morning that the Chevy Volt - which GM hopes will be the company's savior - gets a rating of 230 miles per gallon in city driving based on a draft of new methodology created by the EPA to test plug-in hybrids. It is also rated at 25 kWh per 100 miles in electric driving. Mr. Henderson is very proud of the triple-digit EPA rating, "the first ever", but I think it should be taken with a grain of salt for now.
Click on the photo to see our Chevy Volt slideshow. Photo: GM
Grain of Salt: Let's Wait for Real-World Data and Other PHEVs
First, it's not yet entirely clear if this new EPA testing methodology will be close to real-world usage of plug-in hybrids. After all, with a range extended electric vehicle, the shorter your drive is, the higher your total MPG will be because the first miles are driven in electric mode with the gas engine off. The EPA assumptions could turn out to be overly optimistic (we don't have much details on it yet), so we'll have to wait and see.
Second, 230 MPG sounds good, but we can't really compare it to anything since the Chevy Volt is the only plug-in hybrid that has been rated so far. Once more plug-ins have been rated, we'll be able to see how it compares (average? below average? above average?). What if another company came out with the same type of range-extended electric car but got 500 MPG in city driving using the same EPA test? The Volt wouldn't look quite as good...
Of course, if the Chevy Volt does get anywhere near 230 MPG in real-world city driving, it will be a huge improvement over current gasoline, diesel, and even hybrid cars.
GM also says that the Volt will get a "triple digit" combined rating (city + highway), but it hasn't released that number yet.
Pre-production Chevy Volts being assembled. Photo: GM
Installing the battery on a Chevy Volt. Photo: GM
From the GM press release:
Under the new methodology being developed, EPA weights plug-in electric vehicles as traveling more city miles than highway miles on only electricity. The EPA methodology uses kilowatt hours per 100 miles traveled to define the electrical efficiency of plug-ins. Applying EPA's methodology, GM expects the Volt to consume as little as 25 kilowatt hours per 100 miles in city driving. At the U.S. average cost of electricity (approximately 11 cents per kWh), a typical Volt driver would pay about $2.75 for electricity to travel 100 miles, or less than 3 cents per mile.
See also: GM Volt Owners Might Go Up to 2 Years Without Changing the Oil
Via GM, Fastlane
Check out our Chevy Volt Slideshow!
More Chevy Volt
230 MPG? Stop the Madness! Here's How the EPA Should Rate Range-Extended Electric Cars
Myvolt? Voltbook? GM Launches Voltage Social Network
What Does GM's Bankruptcy Mean for the Chevy Volt?
Wall Street Journal Wants GM to Abandon the Volt