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Friday, October 23rd, 2009

The Gadget Blog

Realistic Mileage Figures for the Chevy Volt are Still Impressive, But Not 230 mpg

August 12, 2009 by Rico Mossesgeld  
Filed under Automotive

Everyone’s buzzing over the Chevy Volt, which is basically a hybrid car (runs on an electric and gasoline engine) with ginormous batteries. Eyes have bulged over the claimed 230 miles per gallon mileage.

Courtesy General Motors

Courtesy General Motors

But Math-dude turned blogger Mark insists that “The method that GM used to produce that mileage figure is extremely dishonest and completely uninformative”. In other words, the figure publicized is technically true, but would turn out different in practical situations. That’s because GM apparently came up with figure by computing how long it would take for the car to actually start consuming gasoline, if the batteries were fully charged.

To be clear, the high battery capacity and chargeability of the Volt still allows for impressive, real-world mileage conditions. As Mark computes: “if you drive your car 100 miles a day, you’ll consume a bit over a gallon of gas.” Those who don’t have to travel far to get to work, such as Mark’s wife (24 miles total), will literally never have to load one drop of fuel.

Yet on longer trips, the Volt’s mileage would be very different—but still impressive. Mark’s friend, who travels 90 miles total a day, would get 90 miles to the gallon. There is no question about the Volt’s potential to cut down on fuel consumption, but simply a call for more accurate markted mileage figures.

Then again, try explaining all that to potential customers through a quick soundbite or one-sentence statement. GM does have its reasons after all, especially with mistaken assumptions like electric cars actually costing more money and consuming more power than it saves. The best we can hope for is that the manufacturer provides detailed mileage scenarios to those who are actually interested in purchasing the vehicle.

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