Chevy Volt might be less than claimed

General Motors officially introduced the Chevy Volt which will go on sale at Chevy dealers before the end of the year. The GM line: “The Chevrolet Volt is not a hybrid. It is a one-of-a-kind, all-electrically driven vehicle designed and engineered to operate in all climates.” Priced at just over $40,000, it is eligible for a $7,500 federal subsidy that is not available to hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius ($22,000 base price).

GM’s claim that the Volt is not a hybrid is disputed by Motor Trend and by Edmunds Inside Line who have tested the car. They claim that under certain conditions, the gasoline engine drives the vehicle, thereby making it a hybrid. (They note, however, that the Volt handles much better than the Prius) See:

Motor Trend story Unbolting the Chevy Volt to See How it Ticks

Edmunds Inside Line story: GM Lied: Chevy Volt Is Not a True EV

Popular Mechanics tested the Volt’s range and fuel economy: “In addition to measuring EV range, we also recorded the fuel use when the car was in its ‘charge sustaining’ mode. In other words, we computed the fuel economy after the battery was depleted, both on our city loop and the highway trip. In the city, we recorded 31.67 mpg and achieved 36.0 mpg on the highway. If we factor in the distance traveled on the battery’s energy the fuel economy jumps to 37.5 mpg city and 38.15 mpg highway.” The average range on batteries alone was 33 miles.

I once owned a 1984 Toyota Tercel that got up to 44 mpg on the highway. So why is the Volt touted as such a breakthrough rather than just another expensive toy?



  1. If you are making a 10 mile each way round trip, you will not use any gasoline at all.  If that is all you do with your volt you will get infinite miles per gallon.

  2. You still have to charge it up with electricity.  How do you think the power is generated, by hamsters on a wheel? No. With fossil fuels. Very little is gained by using an all electric car. But it makes those that can afford it feel good about themselves and that’s what it’s all about in reality.
    And by the way, my Honda Fit rolls along quite nicely up and down I-19 getting 42-44 mpg. For $16,500.

  3. True, but the 18 thousand dollar difference between the price of the Prius and that of the Volt will likely buy all of the gasoline that the former will use during the entire time that you own and drive it.
    I did the math when I bought my last car and even with high gas prices the standard automobile with good mileage costs less to own and operate over it’s service life than a hybrid version.  That even included the tax credits.
    As long as it costs more to buy the hybrid than to buy a regular car and the gasoline it uses they won’t catch on with most of us.

  4. I did the same Jerry, with the Prius vs. the Fit and other sub-compacts.  No comparison.  It’s just not cost effective to buy the hybrid, yet. Even less so with the Volt.

  5. I imagine this car will be sold primarily to folks who are very
    conscious of their “carbon footprint” and who are not put off by the price.  This will likely be a limited market, but, with time and real-world experience I expect we will see more practical and affordable models coming out that will have broad enough appeal and the engineering to make a difference.

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