The Chevy Volt Will Get 50 MPG When the Battery is Drained, According to GM

gm chevy volt photo

Photo: Michael Graham Richard
About as Fuel-Efficient as the 2010 Toyota Prius in Gasoline Mode
The Chevy Volt is slowly getting closer to its launch date, with the first pre-production units rolling off the assembly line a couple weeks ago, and GM is releasing a slow but steady trickle of information about it. We don't yet have the price, though Nissan's announcement of the LEAF's price will probably force GM to try to match it, but we now have an unofficial MPG number for the Volt once the battery is drained and the gas engine kicks in.
gm chevy volt photo

Photo: Michael Graham Richard
Still Waiting for a Better EPA Methodology
All we previously had was the mostly meaningless "combined" MPG number based on a EPA methodology draft. The reasons why it doesn't really tell us anything are explained in more details here. Suffice it to say that the EPA is re-thinking its methodology and trying to come up with something that gives more meaningful numbers.

GM chief engineer Andrew Farah said that GM's target for the Volt when operating in gasoline mode is 50 MPG, and that road tests show that this is what the PHEV has been getting (after about 40 miles in electric mode, the battery is drained and the gasoline engine kicks in to generate electricity, powering the electric motor).

This would make it about as fuel-efficient as the 3rd generation Toyota Prius after the first 40 miles. Not bad, but not spectacular. The problem is of course that when in electric mode, you are lugging around a heavy gasoline engine, and when in gasoline mode, you have to expand energy to move a heavy battery. That's the main disadvantage of plug-in hybrids over pure electric battery vehicles (the advantage is a longer range and fast refueling).

More Electric Cars
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