# Chevy Volt's 230 mpg ?

1. Aug 11, 2009

### Pengwuino

Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

So apparently, it's expected that the new Chevy Volt is going to get a 230mpg city rating. After reading up on it, I'm not sure how it's going to work. On a "full" charge, they expect 40 miles off pure battery. Then the engine will take over to power the generator which will have up to a 50mpg rating. Now, the devil is in the details; how does the EPA calculate mpg for vehicles like this? On a long drive, I assume the rating tends towards the rating the engine/generator would have, however in the daily grind of big city driving, I can't even imagine what it would tend towards if you keep it charged all the time (charge at home then possibly charge at work? makes me wonder if a business would charge their employees to plug in their cars :P)?

DISCUSS!

Wait, no "discuss", i just want an answer :rofl:.

2. Aug 11, 2009

### Integral

Staff Emeritus
Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

How far did you go?

How much gas did you use?

What else matters?

That being said they should be finding a "gas equivalence" for the charge time, then adding that figure to the gas consumed.

3. Aug 11, 2009

### mgb_phys

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

It's designed to meet the EPA's new rating for in-city (or the EPA's new rating is designed for this). You are allowed to start with a full charge and then use the IC when the charge runs out for the last few ( 10 ? ) miles.
So if you make a hybrid with 10% more electric range it looks like you do twice as many miles/gallon.
It's currently being ridiculed all over the net - with people claiming that their SUV does infinite mpg if you only count the 40miles downhill.

4. Aug 11, 2009

### junglebeast

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

Ok...so in other words,

Gallons used = max(0, miles traveled - 40) / 50

As miles traveled goes to infinity, miles per gallons goes to 50.

This car gets 50 MPG. Not 230.

5. Aug 11, 2009

### Pengwuino

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

Now there's the problem, that's miles traveled continuously. The ideal situation is you drive to work, run some errands, come home, plug back in, all hopefully within that first 40 miles of pure electricity and you effectively divide by zero. The Volt violates the laws of math!!!

6. Aug 11, 2009

### junglebeast

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

Miles per gallon is a ratio. The amount of gas used over time is a graph. The ratio they give should be the same ratio as this graph. Any adjustment in the first few miles is irrelevant in the long term. They should take a hint from Big-O notation / complexity analysis.

If they want to advertise better gas mileage, they should do it honestly: it is 40 free miles + 50 mpg after that. Saying that it has 230 miles per gallon is flat out lying, and should make them liable to class action lawsuit IMO.

7. Aug 12, 2009

### Alfi

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

If I start with a full charge and one liter of gas. Drive till I can't go any further.
It is true that I just look at the odometer and say I went x Kilometers on one liter of gas.

But I will get a different number if I want to go from a to b ( 600km ) in a single trip.

Either way, It's a whole lot better than any other car out there.

8. Aug 12, 2009

### Kurdt

Staff Emeritus
9. Aug 12, 2009

### Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

This is one of the problems that arises with trying to compare fuel efficiency when you're using two different fuels, each of which is measured in different units. The same problem will arise in trying to compare different electric-only vehicles, though. The amount of electricity used to get from A to B seems the best measure, but here you can already see with the Volt they aren't telling you that. They are instead telling you how many miles you can go on a full charge. That would be like saying the big F250 pickup truck with dual gas tanks has the same fuel efficiency as the Honda Civic because they can go the same distance before stopping to refuel.

I think the most honest answer is that GASOLINE gets you 50 mpg, which isn't that bad even on it's own. If you run out the batteries without any opportunity to stop and recharge, you can get another 40 miles.

On vehicles that get plugged in, once people start plugging them in and watching their electric bills rise, they are also going to also want some real numbers on how much electricity it takes to charge those batteries in KWh so they can figure out how much it costs per recharge based on their electric rates. Here and other places where I've seen this car discussed, I keep hearing the phrase, "The first 40 miles is free," but that's not true either. Afterall, it does cost something for the electric to charge those batteries to go that first 40 miles. And, how "green" those first 40 miles are highly depends on how the electric is generated in your area.

Afterall, what people really want out of these numbers is the answer to "How much will it cost me to operate this car the way I intend to use it?" How much will you be spending each month if you use it for your commute back and forth to work? With these types of cars, you can't just multiply mpg by the number of miles you commute. You need to factor how far electric will get you and how far gas needs to get you, and a lot of that also depends on the speeds you need to drive as to how much the gas engine needs to start contributing, and how far you need to get before you can plug it back in. If you have a 10 mile commute on back roads, that's going to be very different than if you have a 60 mile commute mostly on interstates, and not just because of the distance driven, but because of the relative contributions of electric vs. gas.

As hybrid and electric cars become more popular or common, it's going to be very important to revise the way fuel efficiency is measured and apply a standard that allows more reasonable comparisons between cars and that keeps manufacturers honest.

10. Aug 12, 2009

### mgb_phys

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

I think people will just ignore the consumption figures, they only have a very limited relationship to your real driving anyway.

It's only in the US that city/highway figures are even quoted or used by consumers - in Europe where gas costs $8-10/gallon nobody reads them, you just look at the engine size. You know if you bought a 3.5L BMW you aren't going to care about the cost of gas, if you are worried you buy the 1.2L Lupo instead of the 1.4L Golf - if you buy the 1L Citroen diesel your main worry is forgetting where the filler cap is when you do run out. I think people who do manage to just use a hybrid over it's plugin range are going to be very happy about the cost. If you believe the makers figures for the volt a 9kWh charge will do 40miles, at 10c/unit (overnight off-peak rate) you are talking about a couple of cents/mile half of the cost of even 50mpg gasoline. Last edited: Aug 12, 2009 11. Aug 12, 2009 ### Ivan Seeking Staff Emeritus Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"? The fact is that the increased cost of the plug-in over a standard fuel-efficient vehicle is more than the lifetime cost of fuel for the latter. With a unit production cost to GM of about$35,000, suggesting a sales price of about $40K, at least for now, this car is way too expensive to be of any practical value. It is a novelty for yuppies. Last edited: Aug 12, 2009 12. Aug 12, 2009 ### Alfi Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"? The atomic bomb is NOT practical. But how many Billions got wasted on that? This car is a good start. The Idea is Well worth developing. Such as the Wright Bros. first plane was. 13. Aug 12, 2009 ### Ivan Seeking Staff Emeritus Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"? I wasn't dissing the approach, just the current product. Very few people are going to buy a$35,000 [after federal tax credit] Corolla.

Of course, effectively lying about the mileage and saying it gets 230mpg will help for a short time - a wow factor for the suckers.

Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
14. Aug 12, 2009

### mgb_phys

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

The top 113 fuel efficent models in the UK do better than 50mpg-US combined.

These aren't Smart microcars, they are mostly 90+Hp turbo diesel hatchbacks.

For some strange reason none of these seem to be available in the US/Canada, even though some of them are built by an American company.
Seat and Skoda aren't familar in America - they are basically rebadged VW Polo/Golf

Maker Model Urban Highway Combined (mpg US)

SEAT Ibiza 1.4 TDI 48.0 73.5 61.9
Volkswagen Polo 1.4 TDI 48.0 73.5 61.9
Mini MINI 50.0 67.2 60.3
Citroen C1 1.4HDi 44.4 69.2 57.4
Mini MINI R55 48.0 65.4 57.4
Skoda Fabia 1.4 TDI 44.4 69.2 57.4
Fiat 500 1.3 16v 44.4 65.4 56.0
Ford Fiesta 44.4 67.2 56.0
Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi 45.2 65.4 56.0

Anyway to format tables here?

Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
15. Aug 12, 2009

### Alfi

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

Sorry to come across so strong.
It seems to me a lot of negatives are being expressed and not enough 'it's a good start' type of expressions.
I disagree with false advertising as well.
I do agree with the idea of getting away from oil addiction, and therefore support many efforts in electric car ideas.
Screw status symbols, screw high speed performance. I want to see practical.

:)

16. Aug 12, 2009

### skeptic2

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

It seems to me there are two different figures that are of interest here.

1. How much CO2 does a coal or gas fired power plant produce to generate enough electricity to charge batteries to go 50 miles compared to a gallon of gas.

2. How much does the electricity required to charge the batteries enough to drive 50 miles cost compared to a gallon of gas?

17. Aug 12, 2009

### mgb_phys

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

If we assume 9kWh/40miles for the Volt.
A US coal fired power station produces about 1kg CO2/kWh.
So 40miles = 1 charge = 9kg CO2
A gasoline engine releases about 2.2Kg CO2 / litre = 18.3 kg CO2/gallon(US)
So if it does 50mpg, it is about 2x as much CO2 on gas as on plugin

A unit of electric costs around 10c, so around $1 per 40mi charge, 40miles on ICE would take around 1 gallon =$2-3 ?

Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
18. Aug 12, 2009

### mgb_phys

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

Thats the debate.
Is the current generation of hybrids a pointless diversion from just driving small efficent turbo diesel (european style) cars?
Or is it a first step toward a clean cheap electric vehicle?

Since 50% of US grid power comes from coal, and coal+electric is only about 50% the CO2 emission per km of gasoline is this a big saving?

Then there is the current range of hybrids available in the US.
If you are cynical they are a deliberate attempt to make electric look bad, 2x the price of a regular car, limited battery life, poor efficiency on gas. Just enough to keep the government off their backs with one hand while convincing everybody to keep buying Jeeps with the other.
If you are feeling more generous they are a 'toe in the water', small production run status symbols to get people used to the idea and to build technical knowledge for the next generation.

19. Aug 12, 2009

### Topher925

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

US emissions are much more strict than in European countries.

Have a look here. (Be sure to convert mi to km or vice versa!)
http://www.dieselnet.com/standards/us/ld.php
http://www.dieselnet.com/standards/eu/ld.php

The tables don't show emissions for sulfur dioxide but I think you get the idea. Low sulfur type emissions means lower efficiency and higher cost. Combine this with the fact that the US uses ultra-low sulfur diesel (15ppm of S) instead of "regular diesel (50ppm of S) makes the fuel more expensive and less available, you have some pretty good reasons why small turbo diesel cars aren't more popular in the US.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra-low_sulfur_diesel

I for one am a big fan of the Volt. The 230mph rating is in fact correct under EPA standards. It can be somewhat misleading to the laymen but if it sells cars, I don't think GM cares and neither do I. In order for the Volt to be successful, the car doesn't have to be drastically cheaper than current vehicles, it only has to come close to breaking even. This (with any luck) will be the first series hybrid vehicle on the road made by a major OEM. This will be a pretty big leap in hybrid technology and design which can also be applied to hydrogen powered vehicles in the future.

20. Aug 12, 2009

### mgb_phys

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

There was always a complaint that the US figures based on ppm rather than g/km were designed to assist large engines.
So a small efficent 1.4litre engine would be penalised compared to a 4.8 litre engine which used 4x as much fuel to generate twice as much power. The rules also effectively banned turbo diesels.

eg. An eu 'A' rated car (typical 1.4L turbo diesel) does better than 100 g CO2/km but doesn't meet US pollution specs.
A Jeep Grand Cherokee or a Escalade with a 6litre engine puts out 380 g CO2/km but is 'greener' according to the EPA.

Low sulphur diesel in the eu is <10ppm and is the only stuff available (at least for cars) for years.
Non-road diesel is a big problem, my colleagues in air quality in ca are trying to convince people not to burn garden waste when the ships in the port and the railway servicing them are allowed to do pretty much anything.

Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
21. Aug 12, 2009

### mheslep

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

Also deduct the $7500 tax credit (thanks Mr/Ms Taxpayer). I agree the Volt is too expensive to catch on in the 1st model, and will likely remain so for a few years. I believe there is an affordable alternative business model: GM makes the battery swappable and leases it per mile to the car owner (ala cellphone minutes). The battery amortization would be only about 2-3 cents/mile for the Volt, and can only improve while gasoline cost gets worse. In that case one would drive off the lot minus the battery cost in a ~$25,000 car that for most of its short distance driving costs ~7 cents/mile to operate including electricity and battery costs.- a winner. Battery swap solves other problems too: 1) worry about battery life (who cares if one can swap it out for free like a tire), 2) it solves the range problem - eliminating the need for the gasoline engine backup (and its associated costs in the drive train)

22. Aug 12, 2009

### junglebeast

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

No matter how fuel efficient these new cars are, they aren't going to be economically practical in comparison to buying a crappy old used car that gets average gas mileage. I can only assume they are trying to appeal to the environmentally conscious baby boomer generation who doesn't mind paying extra for a new car to do their part in helping the environment by using less gas. It will take a decade for these new cars to be cheap cars on the used market, but probably they will be in such short supply (as used cars) that they will be more expensive than other used cars of the same age (my guess)....and we may have to wait 20 or more years before hybrids and electrics actually start to become affordable as used cars for college students and the like.

23. Aug 12, 2009

### mheslep

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

The 230 mpg is derived from some convoluted formula forced on everyone by the EPA, because that's how its always been done. But we need not follow.

When the Volt is running off its batteries with no background charge it uses no gasoline. Indeed, it's possible that many owners driving say, 20 miles roundtrip every day to work never put any gasoline in the vehicle. So in that mode of operation the miles-per-gallon efficiency figure is what, infinite? Meaningless? Convoluted in converting gasoline BTUs at one cost to electric kWh at another? All of the above. However, we do have an efficiency figure on the Volt that makes sense for an electrically powered vehicle: http://gm-volt.com/2009/08/11/chevy-volt-gets-230-mpg-city-epa-rating/" [Broken], or $2.50/100 miles on the utility meter in the US (average). When the Volt is running its small (~70HP) gasoline engine an mpg figure is applicable. I don't know what that is, somebody can hunt it down. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt#Fuel_efficiency" The generator-engine runs essentially at constant rpm, as combustion engines like to do, so it must be quite efficient. So I say use both figures when attempting to make sense of hybrid EVs: 4 miles/kWh electric, and 70 mpg gas. It is after all a hybrid, two cars in one. Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017 24. Aug 12, 2009 ### Ivan Seeking Staff Emeritus Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"? I would phrase it differently: It is a matter of betting on which technology will be cost effective first; biofuel technologies, or batteries for electric cars? Diesel cars are a proven technology - a great option ready to go. Electric motors are already 90%+ efficient, though too expensive. But the race ultimately becomes one of biodiesel vs batteries. Biodiesel from food crops is a competitive option at about$3 per gallon, but we could never produce enough to supply the entire US petro market. It also puts food into direct competition with energy. The key to practical, carbon-neutral fuel sources will be second generation biodiesel fuel sources - fuel obtained from algae or other organisms - or third generation sources such as bioengineered algae or bacteria, not food crops

To the best of my knowledge, the limits on battery technology are fundamental. Advances in battery technology may or may not follow a similar price/capacity curve as we saw with integrated circuit technology. Such a curve is implied anecdotally, but we don't know when we will see the next significant advances or how significant they will be. While we may see great advances in the future, it is also conceivable that we are approaching a limit and the next great advances will never come.

With advanced fuel technologies, the limits seem to be more a matter of engineering and applied biology, and not a matter of making fundamental advances. Therefore, I think the most logical bet is to drive towards advanced fuel technologies and the use of clean diesel cars over the next ten years. There is already plenty of impetus in the market to incentivize advances in battery technologies, so allow that to drive the electric car option rather than driving it artificially. Meanwhile, the advanced fuel technologies needed to end our reliance on petroleum completely - something not even conceivably possible at this time with electric technologies - seem to be well within our grasp now.

Biodiesel or related products [pure oils] can be used to power all forms of transportation - cars and trucks, heavy trucks, trains, ships, and aircraft - as well being compatiable with heavy industrial needs such as cranes, generating stations, etc.

Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
25. Aug 12, 2009

### mheslep

Re: Chevy Volt's "230 mpg"?

Nah, been there, done that motor head gig and you are assuming a great deal to make that statement true. First, the crappy old car tends to break down often because its crappy, so repairs are going to get you. Then it is going to leave you on the side of the road somewhere, sometime, and that has a cost, maybe a very large one. Now one might have a high level of motor head skill and assume you can fix everything yourself, but that puts a relatively low value on your time. A crappy old car makes sense for somebody with the skills, but even then its a hobby not a practical proposition. It makes sense to do it once perhaps, early in life, as the under the hood know-how is always valuable down the road.