230 miles per gallon

GM says that the Volt, its new electric car, will get 230 mpg in city driving.

General Motors said Tuesday its Chevrolet Volt electric car could get 230 mpg in city driving, making it the first American vehicle to achieve triple-digit fuel economy if that figure is confirmed by federal regulators.

But when the four-door family sedan hits showrooms late next year, its efficiency will come with a steep sticker price: $40,000.

Still, the Volt’s fuel efficiency would be four times more than the popular Toyota Prius hybrid, the most efficient car now sold in the U.S. . . .

Unlike the Prius and other traditional hybrids, the Volt is powered by an electric motor and a battery pack with a 40-mile range. After that, a small internal combustion engine kicks in to generate electricity for a total range of 300 miles. The battery pack can be recharged from a standard home outlet.

In city driving? If you can go less than 40 miles without using any gasoline at all, however they calculate it would give city driving a big advantage. For once, highway driving would give you poor mileage. (Again, the Volt is an all-electric car that uses its small gasoline engine to recharge its battery after a point.) Still this is pretty impressive. Do you want one?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • MarkE

    Not at $40,000.

  • MarkE

    Not at $40,000.

  • colliebear56

    This car could work for someone who doesn’t travel far from home during a typical weekday, and whose trips are usually around-town driving. This is the strength of electric cars.

    In my case, even though I fit the above profile, I probably wouldn’t consider this car (aside from the prohibitive cost) because I like hauling things around, like my two collies and small trees and shrubs from the garden center.

    I just love my ’97 Jeep Cherokee, which can climb small snow banks and swallow up most anything I want to pack into it.

    All that aside, I think it’s an exciting car that might work for a niche market once the cost comes down. But if Congress and the President are serious about promoting electric cars, they must address the issue of the power source: Utility companies and the electric power grid. The grid is weak, as demonstrated by massive power failures a few years back, and some of the current power sources (coal and nuclear) are way out of favor with the current adminstration.

    Wind and solar power, contrary to what Al Gore says, are never going to be efficient sources of energy at the Utility company level. Not that I disagree with promoting wind and solar, but I think this technology will take off when it is integrated into homes and building design or retrofitted into current ones, i.e. wind and solar work best when harnessed at the site that will use it, as opposed to a power company that has to pipe it out to communites miles away.

    Living in metro Detroit, I want this car to work and hope these auto companies survive and thrive. Our economy depends on it.

  • colliebear56

    This car could work for someone who doesn’t travel far from home during a typical weekday, and whose trips are usually around-town driving. This is the strength of electric cars.

    In my case, even though I fit the above profile, I probably wouldn’t consider this car (aside from the prohibitive cost) because I like hauling things around, like my two collies and small trees and shrubs from the garden center.

    I just love my ’97 Jeep Cherokee, which can climb small snow banks and swallow up most anything I want to pack into it.

    All that aside, I think it’s an exciting car that might work for a niche market once the cost comes down. But if Congress and the President are serious about promoting electric cars, they must address the issue of the power source: Utility companies and the electric power grid. The grid is weak, as demonstrated by massive power failures a few years back, and some of the current power sources (coal and nuclear) are way out of favor with the current adminstration.

    Wind and solar power, contrary to what Al Gore says, are never going to be efficient sources of energy at the Utility company level. Not that I disagree with promoting wind and solar, but I think this technology will take off when it is integrated into homes and building design or retrofitted into current ones, i.e. wind and solar work best when harnessed at the site that will use it, as opposed to a power company that has to pipe it out to communites miles away.

    Living in metro Detroit, I want this car to work and hope these auto companies survive and thrive. Our economy depends on it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01763924682909630509 Orianna Laun

    The local news touted it as a car which could drive from here (St. Louis) to Chicago on one tank of gas. I thought maybe it was a mis-speak, and they meant one gallon of gas; however, with a range of 300 miles, they meant one tank. I currently have a 2000 Toyota Camry which can do that already, even if it is more gas than a Volt.
    I guess if all I did was city driving, that’d be one thing, but at $40,000, one would have to have a pretty hefty salary to afford that kind of car payment. The best way the U.S. car companies can help themselves out of their hole is to find a way to make a car which has good gas mileage and an affordable sticker price. Isn’t that why people started buying foreign in the first place?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01763924682909630509 Orianna Laun

    The local news touted it as a car which could drive from here (St. Louis) to Chicago on one tank of gas. I thought maybe it was a mis-speak, and they meant one gallon of gas; however, with a range of 300 miles, they meant one tank. I currently have a 2000 Toyota Camry which can do that already, even if it is more gas than a Volt.
    I guess if all I did was city driving, that’d be one thing, but at $40,000, one would have to have a pretty hefty salary to afford that kind of car payment. The best way the U.S. car companies can help themselves out of their hole is to find a way to make a car which has good gas mileage and an affordable sticker price. Isn’t that why people started buying foreign in the first place?

  • http://www.challies.com Tim

    I can’t imagine that too many people will rush out to buy one of these things. There was an article in this morning’s National Post that offers what I think is a pretty good assessment.

    Read it here.

  • http://www.challies.com Tim

    I can’t imagine that too many people will rush out to buy one of these things. There was an article in this morning’s National Post that offers what I think is a pretty good assessment.

    Read it here.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Forty grand, and it’s a big environmental LOSS; keep in mind that mining nickel and lithium for the batteries is not an environmental win, it’s putting more weight on the tires (hence more road wear) than a standard Cobalt (off which platform it’s built), and the electricity for charging the battery comes from burning coal.

    If you want to help the environment, you can save yourself twenty grand or so and buy a Civic, Corolla, or Cobalt–save yourself even more and get the manual transmission.

    An interesting point of reference; even back in the 1960s, most manufacturers (including GM, Ford, and Chrysler) were offering vehicles with 30mpg or better. The physical reality is that engineers today are using the same Carnot heat engine (IC engine) and are subject to the same laws of aerodynamics as engineers had in the 1960s, and hence it’s little surprise that the end result is so similar.

    Hopefully we can persuade the makers of man’s laws that the laws of physics do indeed apply, despite their repeated attempts to legislate a value of 3 for pi.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Forty grand, and it’s a big environmental LOSS; keep in mind that mining nickel and lithium for the batteries is not an environmental win, it’s putting more weight on the tires (hence more road wear) than a standard Cobalt (off which platform it’s built), and the electricity for charging the battery comes from burning coal.

    If you want to help the environment, you can save yourself twenty grand or so and buy a Civic, Corolla, or Cobalt–save yourself even more and get the manual transmission.

    An interesting point of reference; even back in the 1960s, most manufacturers (including GM, Ford, and Chrysler) were offering vehicles with 30mpg or better. The physical reality is that engineers today are using the same Carnot heat engine (IC engine) and are subject to the same laws of aerodynamics as engineers had in the 1960s, and hence it’s little surprise that the end result is so similar.

    Hopefully we can persuade the makers of man’s laws that the laws of physics do indeed apply, despite their repeated attempts to legislate a value of 3 for pi.

  • rlewer

    Electricity is not free, economically or environmentally. Basically you are substituting coal for oil.

  • rlewer

    Electricity is not free, economically or environmentally. Basically you are substituting coal for oil.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Ecologically, the new Camaro is better, for crying out loud.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Ecologically, the new Camaro is better, for crying out loud.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    A car like that could come in handy as you are driving long distances trying to find decent healthcare services and places that still have the latest medical technology.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    A car like that could come in handy as you are driving long distances trying to find decent healthcare services and places that still have the latest medical technology.

  • Ryan

    If it breaks how easy/expensive it it to fix and will my local mechanic be able to do it?

  • Ryan

    If it breaks how easy/expensive it it to fix and will my local mechanic be able to do it?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    What colors will it come in?

    Can I get it in earthtones? Mauve?

    Will anti-Obama bumperstickers apply easily?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    What colors will it come in?

    Can I get it in earthtones? Mauve?

    Will anti-Obama bumperstickers apply easily?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I would be more interested if it had a lower sticker price and wasn’t made by Government Motors. Oh, and 0-60 in 8 seconds or less. And I’m with you, Steve: a Mauve Volt GT would could be hotter than that!?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I would be more interested if it had a lower sticker price and wasn’t made by Government Motors. Oh, and 0-60 in 8 seconds or less. And I’m with you, Steve: a Mauve Volt GT would could be hotter than that!?

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    Govt. Motors is also working on the ‘Dolt’.

    It gets 6 gallons per mile and won’t run unless you hire a unionized driver to operate the vehicle.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com/ Steve Martin

    Govt. Motors is also working on the ‘Dolt’.

    It gets 6 gallons per mile and won’t run unless you hire a unionized driver to operate the vehicle.

  • Kyralessa

    Sounds like some pretty cool pie in the sky. Meanwhile, the Prius has been out for what, over ten years now? And the (admittedly quite expensive) Tesla Roadster is on the road. I’m not impressed until I see a Chevy Volt *for sale*.

    I also don’t get why they specify city driving. I drive 32 miles to work one-way, and it’s nearly all highway. Can I get a Chevy Volt, plug it in at work, and then drive home on electric too?

  • Kyralessa

    Sounds like some pretty cool pie in the sky. Meanwhile, the Prius has been out for what, over ten years now? And the (admittedly quite expensive) Tesla Roadster is on the road. I’m not impressed until I see a Chevy Volt *for sale*.

    I also don’t get why they specify city driving. I drive 32 miles to work one-way, and it’s nearly all highway. Can I get a Chevy Volt, plug it in at work, and then drive home on electric too?

  • Manxman

    I live in northeast Ohio where we get a LOT of snow and cold weather. I’d need to know how battery capacity and rechargeability is affected by cold weather & if the Volt would be able to plow thru snow. I’d worry about getting stranded someplace in the car. Or what does running A/C in hot weather do to performance.

  • Manxman

    I live in northeast Ohio where we get a LOT of snow and cold weather. I’d need to know how battery capacity and rechargeability is affected by cold weather & if the Volt would be able to plow thru snow. I’d worry about getting stranded someplace in the car. Or what does running A/C in hot weather do to performance.

  • TimN

    Ultimately it will come down to economics. People will do the math and the concept though lofty will fail in the details or economics of the situation. Ironic in that is often the case with anything the governement is involved in and the government just happens to now be involved in Gov’t Motors.

    If all I did was drive back and forth to work in a brand new Corolla or Civic or my personal car the Jetta Turbo Diesel, it would take me 10 years to equal the price of the brand new car and the cost of gas to $40K. I’m guessing that I can also get another 7-10 years out of those particular cars as history has proven to me time and again. Show me the long list of reliable GM small cars that last beyond 10 years. Will the Volt?

    As was said before, until they can lower the cost to the price that people will pay for a car built on a Cobalt frame from a company as “reliable” as GM (perhaps $18K ??) it will fail.

    Tim N.

    PS: Want to put a few bucks in a pool to see when the government grants a $15000 electric car rebate if used at a Gov’t car company?

  • TimN

    Ultimately it will come down to economics. People will do the math and the concept though lofty will fail in the details or economics of the situation. Ironic in that is often the case with anything the governement is involved in and the government just happens to now be involved in Gov’t Motors.

    If all I did was drive back and forth to work in a brand new Corolla or Civic or my personal car the Jetta Turbo Diesel, it would take me 10 years to equal the price of the brand new car and the cost of gas to $40K. I’m guessing that I can also get another 7-10 years out of those particular cars as history has proven to me time and again. Show me the long list of reliable GM small cars that last beyond 10 years. Will the Volt?

    As was said before, until they can lower the cost to the price that people will pay for a car built on a Cobalt frame from a company as “reliable” as GM (perhaps $18K ??) it will fail.

    Tim N.

    PS: Want to put a few bucks in a pool to see when the government grants a $15000 electric car rebate if used at a Gov’t car company?

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    230 miles per gallon is 4,636,800 rods per hogshead!

    Now THAT’S impressive.

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    230 miles per gallon is 4,636,800 rods per hogshead!

    Now THAT’S impressive.

  • Carl Vehse

    “230 miles per gallon”?!? Is everyone else wearing nose plugs, because that number stinks to me!

    First, the linked AP (that should be a tip-off itself!) notes that GM (Government Motors) “used draft guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency for calculating the mileage of extended-range electric vehicles.” But according to Consumer Reports: “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it has published no such protocol, even in draft form. EPA spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn says the agency is still working with the California Air Resources Board, the Department of Energy, and the Society of Automotive Engineers to develop the protocol.”

    Secondly, the 40-mile range assumes no A/C during the summer while driving (or when stuck in rush hour traffic with screaming kids in the back).

    Third, running the heater to keep the driver warm during the wintertime, and headlights on, and the window defroster going, will also knock 10 to 20 miles off a range that will also be reduced by a cold battery.

    Fourth, like with the Leaf, if you don’t have the car in your Chicago (or Minneapolis or Frostbite Falls) wintertime garage charging overnight, or if your place of work doesn’t have a heated parking spot for your car (or maybe you have a really, really big work cubicle), your Volt ain’t going nowhere!

    Fifth, all of this means that under Planet Earth driving conditions, the gas engine will be running sooner or more of the time, using up more gasoline.

    Sixth, elsewhere Larry Nitz, GM’s executive director of hybrid powertrain engineering, explained that the 230 mpg number is based on a 2001 EPA survey of traffic data on how far the average person in the aggregate sample drove per day. Then GM applied a fudge factor to that survey value, or as Nitz put it, “Based on this dataset we will weight the value on an aggregated probabilistic way what the value of the EV distance is.” (As someone once said, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”)

    With a nightly recharge, the 40-mile battery range, the Volt gas engine’s 50 mpg, and the claimed 230 mpg mileage, one can easily calculate that the daily driving distance (with all the other caveats of low intensity driving) used in GM’s estimate is 51.1 miles. Any distance beyond 51.1 miles and the Volt gas mileage drops toward 50 mpg the longer distance you drive daily. For example, driving 100 miles daily with a more realistic 30-mile battery range will give you a gas mileage of 71 mpg. Nice, but not 230, and for $40,000.

  • Carl Vehse

    “230 miles per gallon”?!? Is everyone else wearing nose plugs, because that number stinks to me!

    First, the linked AP (that should be a tip-off itself!) notes that GM (Government Motors) “used draft guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency for calculating the mileage of extended-range electric vehicles.” But according to Consumer Reports: “The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it has published no such protocol, even in draft form. EPA spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn says the agency is still working with the California Air Resources Board, the Department of Energy, and the Society of Automotive Engineers to develop the protocol.”

    Secondly, the 40-mile range assumes no A/C during the summer while driving (or when stuck in rush hour traffic with screaming kids in the back).

    Third, running the heater to keep the driver warm during the wintertime, and headlights on, and the window defroster going, will also knock 10 to 20 miles off a range that will also be reduced by a cold battery.

    Fourth, like with the Leaf, if you don’t have the car in your Chicago (or Minneapolis or Frostbite Falls) wintertime garage charging overnight, or if your place of work doesn’t have a heated parking spot for your car (or maybe you have a really, really big work cubicle), your Volt ain’t going nowhere!

    Fifth, all of this means that under Planet Earth driving conditions, the gas engine will be running sooner or more of the time, using up more gasoline.

    Sixth, elsewhere Larry Nitz, GM’s executive director of hybrid powertrain engineering, explained that the 230 mpg number is based on a 2001 EPA survey of traffic data on how far the average person in the aggregate sample drove per day. Then GM applied a fudge factor to that survey value, or as Nitz put it, “Based on this dataset we will weight the value on an aggregated probabilistic way what the value of the EV distance is.” (As someone once said, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”)

    With a nightly recharge, the 40-mile battery range, the Volt gas engine’s 50 mpg, and the claimed 230 mpg mileage, one can easily calculate that the daily driving distance (with all the other caveats of low intensity driving) used in GM’s estimate is 51.1 miles. Any distance beyond 51.1 miles and the Volt gas mileage drops toward 50 mpg the longer distance you drive daily. For example, driving 100 miles daily with a more realistic 30-mile battery range will give you a gas mileage of 71 mpg. Nice, but not 230, and for $40,000.

  • http://brbible.org/category/blog/from-rich RIch Shipe

    Wow, all really interesting a good posts.

    One thing I would worry about, and this applies to ALL the hybrids, is what happens when some of those expensive parts wear out? How long will the battery last? You can expect about 100K from most American cars before expensive repairs become most possible. I’m worried that the most expensive parts of these hybrids is going to go much earlier and the owner is looking at very high repair costs. Does anyone know what happens when these things wear out and how far down the road before those things start happening?

  • http://brbible.org/category/blog/from-rich RIch Shipe

    Wow, all really interesting a good posts.

    One thing I would worry about, and this applies to ALL the hybrids, is what happens when some of those expensive parts wear out? How long will the battery last? You can expect about 100K from most American cars before expensive repairs become most possible. I’m worried that the most expensive parts of these hybrids is going to go much earlier and the owner is looking at very high repair costs. Does anyone know what happens when these things wear out and how far down the road before those things start happening?

  • rlewer

    230 miles per gallon is the figure for GAS and not for fuel. Does everyone think that elictricitgy does not count as a fuel both in costg and in ecological consequences?

  • rlewer

    230 miles per gallon is the figure for GAS and not for fuel. Does everyone think that elictricitgy does not count as a fuel both in costg and in ecological consequences?

  • E-Raj

    I’m afraid this is just more “pie in the sky” propaganda from the auto industry. You’re essentially trading gasoline burning for coal burning (in most of the country), so it’s not really a “green” car. Plus, the exorbitant cost for a smaller vehicle, coupled with the almost certain higher cost of repair, make the Volt a dubious choice at best.

    My next vehicle: Ford F-150 4×4. No “government motors” for me!

  • E-Raj

    I’m afraid this is just more “pie in the sky” propaganda from the auto industry. You’re essentially trading gasoline burning for coal burning (in most of the country), so it’s not really a “green” car. Plus, the exorbitant cost for a smaller vehicle, coupled with the almost certain higher cost of repair, make the Volt a dubious choice at best.

    My next vehicle: Ford F-150 4×4. No “government motors” for me!

  • Carl Vehse

    The Washington Times’ Aug 20 editorial, “Gee whiz, 367 miles per gallon!” explains why carmakers might want to pushing the ridiculously high mpg numbers:

    “There is an upside in that electric cars might give automobile companies cover to continue to make gas guzzlers. Under the latest federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirement, carmakers have to produce vehicle fleets that average at least 42 mpg by 2016. Companies with an average below that will have to pay a tax to the government. In order to avoid that tax, they will be willing to sell cars listed as having a high mpg at a loss. Each Volt sold will let GM sell nine cars that get 21 mpg without having to face the tax.”

  • Carl Vehse

    The Washington Times’ Aug 20 editorial, “Gee whiz, 367 miles per gallon!” explains why carmakers might want to pushing the ridiculously high mpg numbers:

    “There is an upside in that electric cars might give automobile companies cover to continue to make gas guzzlers. Under the latest federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirement, carmakers have to produce vehicle fleets that average at least 42 mpg by 2016. Companies with an average below that will have to pay a tax to the government. In order to avoid that tax, they will be willing to sell cars listed as having a high mpg at a loss. Each Volt sold will let GM sell nine cars that get 21 mpg without having to face the tax.”

  • Carl Vehse

    Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen dismissed GM’s upcoming plug-in hybrid, the Chevrolet Volt as “a car for idiots.” More specifically, he said that few consumers will be willing to pay $40,000 base price for a car that competes with $25,000 hybrids.

    “No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla,” he said. “So there are not enough idiots who will buy it.” “They’re for the intellectual elite who want to show what enlightened souls they are,” he said.

    More from the Audi President is at the Car Dealer Review webpage.

  • Carl Vehse

    Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen dismissed GM’s upcoming plug-in hybrid, the Chevrolet Volt as “a car for idiots.” More specifically, he said that few consumers will be willing to pay $40,000 base price for a car that competes with $25,000 hybrids.

    “No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a (Toyota) Corolla,” he said. “So there are not enough idiots who will buy it.” “They’re for the intellectual elite who want to show what enlightened souls they are,” he said.

    More from the Audi President is at the Car Dealer Review webpage.


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