GM Claims 230 MPG City for 2011 Volt

by Benjamin Jones on August 11, 2009

230

For the last couple days, GM has been trying to drum up a little press surrounding the number 230 for a surprise announcement. As you can see above, the “0” in 230 is a plug, which makes sense considering the announcement was about the fuel economy capabilities of the upcoming Chevy Volt.

Nothing has changed about the Volt in recent history, but the big number comes from changes in the EPA’s plug-in electric vehicle rating system. The new system, which isn’t official yet, credits the Volt for what would be almost entirely electric-only use during normal city driving:

Under the new methodology being developed, EPA weights plug-in electric vehicles as traveling more city miles than highway miles on only electricity. The EPA methodology uses kilowatt hours per 100 miles traveled to define the electrical efficiency of plug-ins. Applying EPA’s methodology, GM expects the Volt to consume as little as 25 kilowatt hours per 100 miles in city driving. At the U.S. average cost of electricity (approximately 11 cents per kWh), a typical Volt driver would pay about $2.75 for electricity to travel 100 miles, or less than 3 cents per mile.

In a nutshell, semantics. The number relies on consumers consistently plugging their vehicle and getting a full charge each time. Also, this says nothing of the highway mileage for the vehicle, though it’s said the Volt will be weighted more for city driving than highway because of its plug-in capability. While this may generate a more impressive number, it doesn’t give much confidence in the vehicle for use in extended driving.

So, until the actual combined number comes from the EPA, we won’t really know what the Volt’s fuel economy is like, and even then, it will likely be very hard for any of us to make an accurate comparison with another vehicle.

Read the full press release after the break.

PRESS RELEASE:

Chevrolet Volt Expects 230 mpg in City Driving

* First mass-produced vehicle to claim more than 100 mpg composite fuel economy
* Tentative EPA methodology results show 25 kilowatt hours/100 miles electrical efficiency in city cycle
* Plugging in daily is key to high-mileage performance

WARREN, Mich. – The Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle is expected to achieve city fuel economy of at least 230 miles per gallon, based on development testing using a draft EPA federal fuel economy methodology for labeling for plug-in electric vehicles.

The Volt, which is scheduled to start production in late 2010 as a 2011 model, is expected to travel up to 40 miles on electricity from a single battery charge and be able to extend its overall range to more than 300 miles with its flex fuel-powered engine-generator.

“From the data we’ve seen, many Chevy Volt drivers may be able to be in pure electric mode on a daily basis without having to use any gas,” said GM Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson. “EPA labels are a yardstick for customers to compare the fuel efficiency of vehicles. So, a vehicle like the Volt that achieves a composite triple-digit fuel economy is a game-changer.”

According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, nearly eight of 10 Americans commute fewer than 40 miles a day http://tinyurl.com/U-S-DOTStudy .

“The key to high-mileage performance is for a Volt driver to plug into the electric grid at least once each day,” Henderson said.

Volt drivers’ actual gas-free mileage will vary depending on how far they travel and other factors, such as how much cargo or how many passengers they carry and how much the air conditioner or other accessories are used. Based on the results of unofficial development testing of pre-production prototypes, the Volt has achieved 40 miles of electric-only, petroleum-free driving in both EPA city and highway test cycles.

Under the new methodology being developed, EPA weights plug-in electric vehicles as traveling more city miles than highway miles on only electricity. The EPA methodology uses kilowatt hours per 100 miles traveled to define the electrical efficiency of plug-ins. Applying EPA’s methodology, GM expects the Volt to consume as little as 25 kilowatt hours per 100 miles in city driving. At the U.S. average cost of electricity (approximately 11 cents per kWh), a typical Volt driver would pay about $2.75 for electricity to travel 100 miles, or less than 3 cents per mile.

The Chevrolet Volt uses grid electricity as its primary source of energy to propel the car. There are two modes of operation: Electric and Extended-Range. In electric mode, the Volt will not use gasoline or produce tailpipe emissions when driving. During this primary mode of operation, the Volt is powered by electrical energy stored in its 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

When the battery reaches a minimum state of charge, the Volt automatically switches to Extended-Range mode. In this secondary mode of operation, an engine-generator produces electricity to power the vehicle. The energy stored in the battery supplements the engine-generator when additional power is needed during heavy accelerations or on steep inclines.

“The 230 city mpg number is a great indication of the capabilities of the Volt’s electric propulsion system and its ability to displace gasoline,” said Frank Weber, global vehicle line executive for the Volt. “Actual testing with production vehicles will occur next year closer to vehicle launch. However, we are very encouraged by this development, and we also think that it is important to continue to share our findings in real time, as we have with other aspects of the Volt’s development.”

About Chevrolet
Chevrolet is one of America ‘s best-known and best-selling automotive brands, and one of the fastest growing brands in the world. With fuel solutions that go from “gas-friendly to gas-free,” Chevy has nine models that get 30 miles per gallon or more on the highway, and offers three hybrid models. More than 2.5 million Chevrolets that run on E85 biofuel have been sold. Chevy delivers expressive design, spirited performance and provides the best value in every segment in which it competes. More information on Chevrolet can be found at www.chevrolet.com. For more information on the Volt, visit http://media.gm.com/volt/.

General Motors Company, one of the world’s largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 235,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. More information on the new General Motors Company can be found at www.gm.com.

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{ 2 comments }

1 Rob August 11, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Hmm. Something’s fishy. I’m getting about 21 m.p.g., and spending about $0.15/mile. So, (15/2.75)*21=114.5 m.p.g. Not a fair comparison exactly, since kilowatt hours are not directly convertible to joules in a gallon of gas, but let’s try. A kilowatt hour is 3.6 megajoules, so 25 kilowatt hours is 90 megajoules. A gallon of gas has about 125 megajoules of chemical energy available by oxidation. 125 megajoules of electricity would take the car (125/90)*100 or 139 miles on a gallon of gas worth of electricity.

I can’t find a way to justify 230 m.p.g. Are they pulling a Pelmear and figuring that the electric motor takes them 4/5 of the way and ignoring that and the other 1/5 is a 46 m.p.g. gasoline motor? I don’t know, but I don’t see a way to yank 230 m.p.g. from the numbers given.

2 Neil Blanchard August 12, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Hi,

Apparently, if you drive exactly 50 miles in the Volt, you use the battery for the first 40 miles, and then you burn 0.2 gallons to go the last 10 miles — which yields 250mpg.

http://apteraforum.com/showpost.php?p=35957&postcount=26

So, they backed it off by 20mpg. Woo.

The much more important number is the Volt gets ~50mpg while in the charging mode. And it goes 40 miles on a fully charged battery. That’s the real numbers…

Sincerely, Neil

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